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A HOLISTIC THEORY OF TRUTH

Posted by admin | Posted in Senza categoria | Posted on 28-12-2015

0

The Holistic Theory of Truth

and the Epistemic Primacy of Common Sense
Among  All Kinds of Ordinary Knowledge

by Antonio Livi

1.0 What I’m trying to defend with my ‘philosophy of common sense’ (see Livi 2013) is precisely the epistemic primacy of common sense among all kinds of ordinary knowledge in order to save a holistic theory of truth (see Livi 2014). But my purpose is understandable only taking in account my own notion of “common sense” –which is very different from the sociological or the psychological one. Actually, many contemporary essays on this topic stand in the tradition of past and current common sense philosophers, like Thomas Reid, George Berkeley, Henry Sidgwick, George E. Moore, James B. Conant, Radu J. Bogdan, and Noha Lemos, who defend common sense, yet they go beyond their accounts by not only defending common sense but also considering what common sense means (cf., among the many authors I could mention,  Davidson 1984; Agazzi  2007; Boulter 2007; Piccari 2011). Unfortunately, no one of these scholars realized the possibility and the necessity of overpassing the limits of the phenomenological research (social psychology, cultural anthropology, sociology of culture, and so on). A clear example of this could be the research performed by the Swedish Marion Ledwig. Besides giving a historical exegesis of common sense in Thomas Reid and showing parallels in Austin, Searle, Moore, and Wittgenstein, he discovered common sense also in Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals and in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. But the final interpretation of common sense made by this author does not reach at all the level of alethic logic. With his essay he aimed only to make clear how far common sense generalizes, whether proverbs are a form of common sense, and whether common sense can be found in the common knowledge assumption in game theory. Also, he holds that folk psychology should be considered as a common sense psychology (see Ledwig 2007). On the contrary, my own notion of common sense pertains to epistemology, which is the main issue of philosophical logic (see Agazzi  1981). Actually, my philosophy of common sense should be understood as something similar to what Roderick Chilshom called ‘the foundations of knowing’ (cf. Chilshom 1972). In other words, common sense, as I conceive it, is the first step of a theoretical process which leads to overpass the simply semantic holism, i.e. the holism of meaning (see Tarskj 1944), in order to take in account the alethic holism, i.e. the holism of truth. This is made possible by detecting a set of logical connections between judgments based on the truth as the basic value of judgments (see Davidson 1990a, 1990b;  Frankfurt 2006). The result is an axiomatic system of epistemic logic based on the acknowledgement of the real dependence of every judgment on the truth of its necessary presuppositions, or logical conditions of possibility for it to be true.

1.1 This is the meaning of what I maintain as the basic law of thinking, according to the most rigorous phenomenology of the mind processes – which are all directed, in any case, to the consciousness of truth, i.e. to the certainty that the contents of my judgment, here and now, is really true, and I cannot absolutely suppose the contrary to be true. This can happen only when my judgment is strongly founded in its presuppositions, so that I realize that it is just the necessary result of all true knowledge I have already obtained and assured with my former certain judgments. Then, this is the general framework of what I conceive as the holism of truth. According to this logical system, any thought of truth –and any assertion which can express it– is linked with all the others thoughts in its very epistemic justification, through the need of finding its own premise and presuppositions.

1.2 In such a holistic system, my notion of common sense retain a very narrow extension, since it refers only to few, well determinate primary certainties which are the common presupposition of both ordinary and scientific knowledge in all their forms and degrees. In others words, “common sense” is just the hard core of the holistic system of truth. I reached such a conclusion taking in account the basic date of the cognitive science (see Smith 1995a), the most advanced studies on the philosophy of mind (see Searle 2004 ), and the best results of the phenomenology of consciousness – which makes use both of subjective introspection and the analysis of the inter-subjective communication. I realized that in the consciousness of every thinking subject there are some certainties about the ‘real world’ –certainties whose epistemic justification is founded on the immediate evidence of existing beings which necessarily and always are present in everyone’s experience. In Searle’s philosophy of mid such permanent presence of some existing beings is named ‘original or intrinsic intentionality’:

«Where the mind is concerned we also need a distinction between original or intrinsic intentionality on the one hand and derived intentionality on the other. For example I have in my head information about how to get to San Jose. I have a set of true beliefs about the way to San Jose. This information and these beliefs in me are examples of original or intrinsic intentionality. The map in front of me also contains information about how to get to San Jose, and it contains symbols and expressions that refer to or are about or represent cities, highways, and the like. But the sense in which the map contains intentionality in the form of information, reference, aboutness, and representations is derived from the original intentionality of the map makers and users. Intrinsically the map is just a sheet of cellulose fibers with ink stains on it. Any intentionality it has is imposed on it by the original intentionality of humans. So there are two distinctions to keep in mind, first between observer-independent and observer-dependent phenomena, and second between original and derived intentionality. They are systematically related: derived intentionality is always observer-dependent» (Searle 2004, p. 7).

But I maintain much more. In my system such certainties constitute the very first link in the chain of presuppositions; so that they can in no way be subject to doubt. This means that their non-truth is absolutely unthinkable: actually, no one can ever really doubt them, and one must understand that any affirmations to the contrary are merely verbal posturing: actually, they respond to some pragmatic logic, and not the expressions of a real certainty, endowed with its own adequate epistemic justification. Given that they constitute the nucleus of experience, understood as a body of unmediated knowledge, such certainties are present to consciousness in every moment of the search for truth as the logical presupposition of all knowledge deriving from reflection and inference, both inductive and deductive. For this same reason, such certainties function as an ultimate criterion of truth to verify any hypothesis successively formulated. They therefore constitute the main alethic presupposition, that is, the presupposition necessary for any ulterior knowledge to be thought of as true. In fact, on the basis of these original truths, every thinking subject verifies, time after time, the admissibility of any hypothesis – formulated by himself or proposed by other subjects through one of the ways for communicating thought – that presents itself in the search for other truths over the course of his lifetime. As a result all scientific knowledge, should be structured as system logically compatible with the primary truth of common sense, so as to place the instruments of dialectics (reflection, interpretation, inference) effectively at the service of the search for further truths.

1.2 In order to get easier that my thesis about the primary truth will be critically evaluated from different historical and theoretical perspectives, it seems to me appropriate to expound here my proposal in its essential terms. In this way it will be clearer which aspects of my analysis of the holistic structure of thought are obvious and given, which instead are debatable, as they are not universally accepted (being strongly polemical towards philosophical rationalism and theological fideism) and which, finally, are universally ignored. It is these last two aspects that I propose to highlight and re-evaluate within the limits allowed by this study. I hold that the modern term “common sense”, used by several important European philosophers of the 18th and the 19th century (see Mesolella 2011), can still be used in philosophy today, but only meaning by it just what I mean, i.e. the primary evidences that constitute the “basic truth” for each thinking subject, due to: i) their absolute immediacy ―being knowable without any former presupposition; and ii) their necessary function as an alethic foundation of thought in all its forms ―being, in the structure of epistemic holism, the very presupposition of any other assertion with a claim to truth. In the last twenty years I have tried to deepen this theory of the alethic logic as a system by returning repeatedly to the same theme and by stressing its very nature of a logical system (cfr Livi 2005, 2010, 2013a, 2013b, 2013c). This is just what some scholars have underlined detecting the structure of alethic logic according to my thought (see Rego 2011; Renzi 2012).

1.3 For a clearer explanation I want now present some synthetic theses which summarize my own notion of ‘common sense’ as the beginning of knowledge and the unique basic criterion of all possible statement to be considered true.

1.3.1 A first thesis is that there exists in human knowledge a realm of certainties that express what every thinking subject understands directly from experience, even before attempting to interpret – through reasoning – what he has experienced. Inasmuch as they are derived directly from experience, these certainties require no other epistemic justification than the absolute evidence that their object exists. Consequently, even when their object is reached through spontaneous inference (this the case of the certainty about the existence of God), they manifest a decisively intuitive character; since the inference, in this case, is not a formal scientific reasoning, nor does it regard particular anthropological or cultural conditions.

1.3.2 A second thesis is that those certainties constitute our primary knowledge of concrete reality, that is, the awareness of the reality that de facto presents itself to every thinking subject (the ‘world-in-which-one-is’ and one’s own ‘being-in-the-world’ as a personal being).  At the same time, in an indissoluble cognitive unity, they represent our primary knowledge of the universal, that is, that intuition of first principles, both those of a metaphysical-logical nature (which render essentially intelligible, though always problematic, the real from which and in which one lives) and those of a metaphysical-ethical nature (which reveal the meaning and significance of one’s own individual and social life, in both temporal and eternal perspectives).

1.3.3 A third thesis is that  such certainties, being connatural to human intelligence – that is, being a basic characteristic of human nature as such (at least as long as human nature has at its disposable the necessary material conditions to express itself in ordinary empirical life) – are the patrimony of all men and women, they are universal in time and in space, they are a constant in the midst of all the variables of culture and social conditions, just as they are a constant through all the variations (advances and regressions) of an individual’s intellectual developments.

1.3.4 A fourth thesis is that  this common basis of certain and indubitable knowledge – indubitable in itself, even if someone like Descartes can say (though not think) he has called them into question through meditative thought – is precisely what allows for the communication of knowledge among individuals. This communication begins with the acquisition of language and is further developed through the educational process and the relationship between parents and children in the developmental age. It also allows for communication of knowledge among different cultures, overcoming (at least potentially) the barriers of incommunicability resulting from the psychological, anthropological (both ethnic and political), philosophical-religious and technical-scientific differences, which, along with the historical component, characterize the various linguistic structures (both structures of meaning and of significance).

1.3.5 A fifth thesis is that those certainties, despite they have obviously a pre-philosophical nature, are in direct relation to philosophy, especially to philosophy as metaphysics. Actually, certainty of common sense are in all respects coextensive with metaphysical discourse, and are different from it only for the very scientific dimension of metaphysics, which consists in performing a systematic reflection, in creating new hypothesis of interpretation, in elaborating conceptual definitions and logical derivations. The certainties of common sense derived so directly from experience that they furnish philosophical reflection with its necessary material and the first condition for its statement to be true. Actually, they furnish metaphysics with the perennial substance of its truest scientific conclusions, those which over the centuries – considering philosophy in its historic dimension – have allowed some historians to speak of a ‘philosophia perennis’. By the way, I maintain that metaphysics, when it assumes common sense certainties as its alethic background,  is necessarily realistic; much more, it is the only kind of true realism (see Gilson 1990; Reffes 2008; Livi 2010b; Livi 2014b).

1.3.6 A sixth thesis is that those same certainties are the condition of possibility (ex parte obiecti, since they furnish the universal objective horizon from which the specific formal object is extracted) of all particular sciences: sciences of nature, mathematical sciences, human or social sciences, and so on.  But, in addition to furnishing the sciences with the objective premises of scientific research, that is, the field of objective reality (presupposed as real and rational) to be delineated and analyzed, those certainties of which we speak are also the ‘human’ premises of scientific work. They are the necessary conditions for exercising such sciences, and therefore the conditions of possibility ex parte subiecti: because they furnish the basic reasons, they make it possible for man to be a scientist, and also furnish the basic logical instruments, as the principle of identity and of non-contradiction, the principle of efficient and final causality, the roles of inference through induction and deduction (see Tarskj 1959; Agazzi  1981; Nagel  1961).

1.3.7 A seventh thesis deals with the different quality of common sense and science. I maintain that the organic body of certainties of which I speak is in itself qualitatively superior to science, including within the notion of “science” both the metaphysical as well as the particular sciences, that is, all reflexive and systematic knowledge, mediated by reasoning and by culture and equipped with its own technical methodology. The superiority of those certainties lays precisely in the quality of the certainty itself. While the certainty of those direct and universal statements is unconditional and absolute, scientific certainty always has limiting characteristics: either it is a subjective certainty linked to privileged conditions of experience or intellectual capacity; or it is a certainty available only to members of a specific cultural community equipped with its own research instruments; or it is a certainty that can be reached by all humankind, only in relation to particular historical events, or a certain historical level of technological development, or a particular historical perspective on human events; or it is a provisional (hypothetical) certainty, susceptible of falsification or at least revision and adjustment, when it is not a bold working hypothesis of an instrumental nature (that is, as an efficacious tool for research, for science itself, or a mere instrument at the service of technical work or other practical ends). To sum up, while the certainties of direct experience are (per se) incontrovertible, the certainties of science are (per se) debatable, or at least relative, perfectible, revisable; the former belong to all people at all times, the latter belong to some people and only in specific moments of personal or collective history. Secondly, the superiority of these certainties over science is also a primacy in truth: they come first, both logically and chronologically (because every reflection presupposes some direct knowledge to which to return, dealing as we are with secundae intentiones), and are also elevated above other certainties, in the sense that they cannot be contradicted (by the truth; that is, proven false), to the point that every scientific thesis that contradicts those certainties is for that very reason vitiated by error (even if that error can only be demonstrated at the level of science).

1.3.8 An eighth thesis deals with the relationship between particular sciences and metaphysics. I think that a dialogue between particular sciences and metaphysics is certainly necessary, and de facto always beginning anew. However, the threats of reciprocal interference or methodological commingling can be avoided, as can attempts to annex one to the other, deriving from epistemological errors (as in the age of classical philosophical cosmology or the age of modern positivism) if a basis of conceptual agreement is found. This basis can be done precisely by returning to the common epistemological derivation of the certainties and contents of direct experience, thus circumventing any attempt at an impossible, unmediated translation (without the mediation of those basic certainties) of the technical language of metaphysics into the technical language of the other sciences, or vice-versa.

REFERENCES

Agazzi  1981 = Modern  Logic. A Survey, edited by Evandro Agazzi. Dordrecht: Reidel, 1981.

Agazzi  2007 = Valore e limiti del senso comune, edited by Evandro Agazzi. Milano: Franco Angeli, 2007.

Boulter 2007 = Stephen Boulter, The Rediscovery of Common Sense Philosophy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

Chilshom 1972 = Roderick Chilshom, The Foundations of Knowing. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1972.

Davidson 1984 = Donald Davison, Inquires into Truth and Interpretation. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.

Davidson 1990a = Donald Davison, “The Structure and Content of Truth”, The Journal of Philosophy, 1990, pp. 279-328.

Davidson 1990b = Donald Davison, Truth and Predication. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.

Frankfurt 2006 = Harry G. Frankfurt, On Truth. New York: Alfred A. Knof Publisher, 2006.

Gilson 1990 = Etienne Gilson, Methodical Realism, Front Royal: Christendom Press, 1990.

Kleist 2000 = Eugene Edward Kleist, Judging Appearances: a Phenomenological Study of the Kantian Sensus commun. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2000.

Livi 2005 = Antonio Livi, Senso comune e logica aletica, Roma: Casa Editrice Leonardo da Vinci, 2010.

Livi 2010 = Antonio Livi, Metafisica e senso comune. Sullo statuto epistemologico della “filosofia prima”, Roma: Casa Editrice Leonardo da Vinci, 2010.

Livi 2013a = Antonio Livi, A Philosophy of Common Sense. The Modern Discovery of the Epistemic Foundations of Science and Belief. Aurora (Colorado): The Davies Group Publisher, 2013.

Livi 2013b = Antonio Livi, “Why Common Sense, When Assumed As the Primary Truth, Furnishes Alethic Logic System With its Very Epistemic Justification”, in La certezza della verità. Il sistema della logica aletica e il procedimento della giustificazione epistemica, edited by Antonio Livi, Roma: Casa Editrice Leonardo da Vinci, 2013, pp. 19-30.

Livi 2013c = Antonio Livi, “Perché ogni ricerca di un’adeguata giustificazione epistemica presuppone una coerente teoria sistemica della verità”, in La certezza della verità. Il sistema della logica aletica e il procedimento della giustificazione epistemica, edited by Antonio Livi, Roma: Casa Editrice Leonardo da Vinci, 2013, pp. 217-230.

Ledwig 2007 = Marion Ledwig, Common Sense: Its History, Method, and Applicability. New York & Oxford: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2007.

Mesolella 2012 =  I filosofi moderni del senso comune, edited by Mario Mesolella, Roma: Casa Editrice Leonardo da Vinci, 2013.

Nagel  1961 = Ernest Nagel, Science and Common Sense, in The Structure of the Science: problems in the Logic of Scientific Explanation. Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett, 1961, pp. 547-605.

Newell 1980 = David J. Newell, Philosophy and Common Sense. Washington: University Press of America, 1980.

Piccari 2011 = Paolo Piccari, Conoscenza ordinaria e senso comune, with an Introduction by Mariano L. Bianca. Milano: Angeli, 2011.

Reffes 2008 = A. J. Reffes, The Philosophy of Realism, Common Sense, and Ordinary Experience. Berlin: Progress Publishers, 2008.

Rego 2011= Thomas Rego, La filosofia del sentido común en Aristóteles. La doctrina aristotélica de la ‘koinai doxai’, los ‘endoxa’ y los primeros principios de la demonstración en comparación con la teoria de Antonio Livi acerca de la sprimeras verades existenciales. Roma: Casa Editrice Leonardo da Vinci, 2011.

Renzi 2012 = Fabrizio Renzi, La logica aletica e la sua funzione critica, Roma: Casa Editrice Leonardo da Vinci, 2012.

Searle 2004 = John R. Searle, Mind: A Brief Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Smith 1995a = «Formal Ontology, Common Sense, and Cognitive Science», in International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 43 (1995), pp. 641-667.

Smith 1995b = Barry Smith, «The Structure of Common Sense World», in Acta Philosophica Fennica, 58 (1995), pp. 290-317.

Tarskj 1944 = Alfred Tarskj, «The Semantic  Conception of Truth», in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 4 (1944), pp. 341-376.

Tarskj 1959 = Alfred Tarskj, Introduction to Logic and Methodology of Deductive Sciences. Oxfrod: Blackwell, 1959.

THE BEST MONOGRAPH ON ANTONIO LIVI’S THOUGHT

Posted by admin | Posted in Senza categoria | Posted on 28-12-2015

0

THE BEST MONOGRAPH ON ANTONIO LIVI’S THOUGHT

HAS BEEN WRITTEN IN ENGLISH

BY WILLIAM SLATTERY

WILLIAM SLATTERY, "THE LOGIC OF TRUTH" (2015)

FOREWORD

by Antonio Livi

Some Italian scholars (Pier Paolo Ottonello, Roberto Di Ceglie, Fabrizio Renzi) have already tried to draw a synthetic overview of my logical thought. William Slattery is the first non-Italian scholar who did it, and I sincerely think that his attempt is the best one, both for its completeness and for its intellectual penetration in the matter. So it is now for me a pleasure to present it and to recommend it to all who are concerned with the contemporary discussion about the issue of truth.

William Slattery, an Irish priest living in Rome, was studying Philosophy at the Gregorian University, where he defended in 2015 his doctoral thesis, whose subject was my own interpretation of the main principles of Thomas Aquinas’ epistemology. The book that now I have the pleasure to present is just based in the conclusions of  the research performed for his Ph.D. This research deals with my proposal of systematizing and updating the philosophical thought of Saint Thomas in relation with the key problems of epistemology, trying to connect in a logical system his main doctrines, i.e: i) the metaphysical nature of logical truth, as adaequtio intellectus ad rem; ii) the primacy of direct experience over both reasoning and faith in a witness; iii) the alethic function of the first principles of knowing as the common background of all possible achievement in the search for truth; iv) the judgment as the reflexive act of the mind by which the thinking subject express his consciousness of having reached the truth about some concrete object in a certain moment. In order to perform this project of systematizing and updating the philosophical thought of Saint Thomas in relations with those topics, I took advantage of the modern notion of “common sense” which had been developed by several philosophers, not necessary belonging to the Thomistic tradition, in their defense of metaphysical realism, before against Descartes’ idealistic system and after against Kant’s transcendental system. Moreover, I took advantage of the contemporary logical achievement of the American scholars belonging to the analytic school. For this reasons, Slattery’s attempt to perform a critical comparison between the doctrines of Saint Thomas and my alethic logic system was really very difficult, especially because it required a deep penetration in the very meaning of the different terms used by Aquinas and modern and contemporary philosophers.

But Slattery was capable to overcome those difficulties. He reached an excellent degree of comprehension of Aquinas’ thought  having spent many years to an attentive reading of all his epistemological works. And, for what concerns my own thought, he spent almost three years to read my books on the alethic logic and to meet me personally in order to discuss about the right interpretation of what I wanted to maintain. He was really able to show that what I defend with my ‘philosophy of common sense’ is precisely the epistemic primacy of common sense among all kinds of ordinary knowledge in order to save a holistic theory of truth. But he was also capable to underline my own notion of “common sense” –which is very different from the sociological or the psychological one, since it pertains to epistemology, which is the main issue of philosophical logic. Actually, my philosophy of common sense should be understood as something similar to what Roderick Chilshom called ‘the foundations of knowing’. In other words, common sense, as I conceive it, is the first step of a theoretical process which leads to overpass the simply semantic holism, i.e. the holism of meaning, in order to take in account the alethic holism, i.e. the holism of truth. This is made possible by detecting a set of logical connections between judgments based on the truth as the basic value of judgments. The result is an axiomatic system of epistemic logic based on the acknowledgement of the real dependence of every judgment on the truth of its necessary presuppositions, or logical conditions of possibility for it to be true. This is the meaning of what I maintain as the basic law of thinking, according to the most rigorous phenomenology of the mind processes – which are all directed, in any case, to the consciousness of truth, i.e. to the certainty that the contents of my judgment, here and now, is really true, and I cannot absolutely suppose the contrary to be true. This can happen only when my judgment is strongly founded in its presuppositions, so that I realize that it is just the necessary result of all true knowledge I have already obtained and assured with my former certain judgments. Then, this is the general framework of what I conceive as the holism of truth. According to this logical system, any thought of truth –and any assertion which can express it– is linked with all the others thoughts in its very epistemic justification, through the need of finding its own premise and presuppositions.

In such a holistic system of alethic logic, my notion of common sense retain a very narrow extension, since it refers only to few, well determinate primary certainties which are the common presupposition of both ordinary and scientific knowledge in all their forms and in all their degrees. In others words, “common sense” is in my logical system the very hard core of the holistic structure of truth. I reached such a conclusion taking in account the basic date of the cognitive science, the most advanced studies on the philosophy of mind, and the best results of the phenomenology of consciousness – which makes use both of subjective introspection and the analysis of the inter-subjective communication. I realized that in the consciousness of every thinking subject there are some certainties about the ‘real world’ –certainties whose epistemic justification is founded on the immediate evidence of existing beings which necessarily and always are present in everyone’s experience-

But I maintain much more. In my system such certainties constitute the very first link in the chain of presuppositions; so that they can in no way be subject to doubt. This means that their non-truth is absolutely unthinkable: actually, no one can ever really doubt them, and one must understand that any affirmations to the contrary are merely verbal posturing: actually, they respond to some pragmatic logic, and not the expressions of a real certainty, endowed with its own adequate epistemic justification. Given that they constitute the nucleus of experience, understood as a body of unmediated knowledge, such certainties are present to consciousness in every moment of the search for truth as the logical presupposition of all knowledge deriving from reflection and inference, both inductive and deductive. For this same reason, such certainties function as an ultimate criterion of truth to verify any hypothesis successively formulated. They therefore constitute the main alethic presupposition, that is, the presupposition necessary for any ulterior knowledge to be thought of as true. In fact, on the basis of these original truths, every thinking subject verifies, time after time, the admissibility of any hypothesis – formulated by himself or proposed by other subjects through one of the ways for communicating thought – that presents itself in the search for other truths over the course of his lifetime. As a result all scientific knowledge, should be structured as system logically compatible with the primary truth of common sense, so as to place the instruments of dialectics (reflection, interpretation, inference) effectively at the service of the search for further truths.

WHAT COMMON SENSE IS FOR ALETHIC LOGIC

Posted by admin | Posted in Senza categoria | Posted on 19-08-2015

1

The Holistic Theory of Truth

and the Epistemicv Primacy of Common Sense

Antonio Livi

What I am trying to defend with my “philosophy of common sense” (see Livi 2013) is precisely the epistemic primacy of common sense among all kinds of ordinary knowledge, in order to save a holistic theory of truth (see Livi 2014). But my purpose is understandable only by taking into account my own notion of “common sense” – which is very different from the sociological or the psychological one. Actually, many contemporary essays on this topic stand in the tradition of past and current common sense philosophers like Thomas Reid, George Berkeley, Henry Sidgwick, George E. Moore, James B. Conant, Radu J. Bogdan and Noha Lemos, who defend common sense; yet they go beyond their accounts by not only defending common sense but also considering what common sense means (cf., among the many authors I could mention, Davidson 1984; Agazzi 2007; Boulter 2007; Piccari 2011). Unfortunately, none of these scholars realized the possibility or the necessity of overcoming the limits of phenomenological research (social psychology, cultural anthropology, sociology of culture, and so on). A clear example of this is the research performed by Marion Ledwig, from Sweden. Besides giving a historical exegesis of common sense in Thomas Reid and showing parallels in Austin, Searle, Moore, and Wittgenstein, he also discovered common sense in Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals and in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. But the final interpretation of common sense made by this author reaches not at all the level of alethic logic. With his essay he aimed only to make clear how far common sense generalizes, whether proverbs are a form of common sense, and whether common sense can be found in the common knowledge assumption in game theory. He also holds that folk psychology should be considered as a common sense psychology (see Ledwig 2007). On the contrary, my own notion of common sense pertains to epistemology, which is the main issue of philosophical logic (see Agazzi 1981). Actually, my philosophy of common sense should be understood as something similar to what Roderick Chilshom called “the foundations of knowing” (cf. Chilshom 1972). In other words, common sense, as I conceive it, is the first step of a theoretical process which leads to surpassing simply semantic holism, i.e. the holism of meaning (see Tarskj 1944), in order to take into account alethic holism, i.e. the holism of truth. This is made possible by identifying a set of logical connections between judgments based on the truth as the basic value of judgments (see Davidson 1990a, 1990b; Frankfurt 2006). The result is an axiomatic system of epistemic logic based on the acknowledgement of the real dependence of every judgment on the truth of its necessary presuppositions, or the logical conditions of the possibility of them being true.

This is the meaning of what I maintain is the basic law of thinking, according to the most rigorous phenomenology of the mind’s processes – which are all directed, in any case, to the consciousness of truth, i.e. to the certainty that the contents of my judgment, here and now, are really true, and I cannot absolutely suppose the contrary to be true. This can happen only when my judgment is strongly founded in its presuppositions, so that I realize that it is just the necessary result of all true knowledge I have already obtained and assured with my former certain judgments. Then, this is the general framework of what I conceive as the holism of truth. According to this logical system, any thought of truth – and any assertion which can express it – is linked with all the other thoughts in its very epistemic justification, through the need of finding its own premise and presuppositions.

In such a holistic system, my notion of common sense retains a very narrow extension, since it refers only to a few determinate primary certainties which are the common presupposition of both ordinary and scientific knowledge in all their forms and degrees. In other words, “common sense” is just the hard core of the holistic system of truth. I reached such a conclusion taking into account the basic data of cognitive science (see Smith 1995a), the most advanced studies on the philosophy of the mind (see Searle 2004), and the best results of the phenomenology of consciousness – which makes use both of subjective introspection and the analysis of intersubjective communication. I realized that in the consciousness of every thinking subject there are certainties about the “real world” – certainties whose epistemic justification is founded on the immediate evidence of existing beings which are necessarily and always present in everyone’s experience. In Searle’s philosophy of the mind, this permanent presence of existing beings is called “original” or “intrinsic intentionality”:

Where the mind is concerned we also need a distinction between original or intrinsic intentionality on the one hand and derived intentionality on the other. For example I have in my head information about how to get to San Jose. I have a set of true beliefs about the way to San Jose. This information and these beliefs in me are examples of original or intrinsic intentionality. The map in front of me also contains information about how to get to San Jose, and it contains symbols and expressions that refer to or are about or represent cities, highways, and the like. But the sense in which the map contains intentionality in the form of information, reference, aboutness, and representations is derived from the original intentionality of the map makers and users. Intrinsically the map is just a sheet of cellulose fibers with ink stains on it. Any intentionality it has is imposed on it by the original intentionality of humans. So there are two distinctions to keep in mind, first between observer-independent and observer-dependent phenomena, and second between original and derived intentionality. They are systematically related: derived intentionality is always observer-dependent (Searle 2004, p. 7).

But I maintain much more. In my system, such certainties constitute the very first link in the chain of presuppositions, so they can in no way be subject to doubt. This means that their non-truth is absolutely unthinkable; actually, no one can ever really doubt them, and one must understand that any affirmations to the contrary are merely verbal posturing. They respond to some pragmatic logic, and not the expressions of a real certainty, endowed with its own adequate epistemic justification. Given that they constitute the nucleus of experience, understood as a body of unmediated knowledge, such certainties are present to consciousness in every moment of the search for truth as the logical presupposition of all knowledge deriving from reflection and inference, both inductive and deductive. For this same reason, such certainties function as an ultimate criterion of truth to verify any hypothesis successively formulated. They therefore constitute the main alethic presupposition, that is, the presupposition necessary for any ulterior knowledge to be thought of as true. In fact, on the basis of these original truths, every thinking subject verifies, time after time, the admissibility of any hypothesis – formulated by himself or proposed by other subjects through one of the ways of communicating thought – that presents itself in the search for other truths over the course of his lifetime. As a result, all scientific knowledge should be structured as a system logically compatible with the primary truth of common sense, so as to place the instruments of dialectics (reflection, interpretation, inference) effectively at the service of the search for further truths.

In order to makes it easier for my thesis about primary truth to be critically evaluated from different historical and theoretical perspectives, it seems to me appropriate to expound here my proposal in its essential terms. In this way it will become clearer which aspects of my analysis of the holistic structure of thought are obvious and given, and which are instead debatable, as they are not universally accepted (being strongly polemic towards philosophical rationalism and theological fideism) and which, finally, are universally ignored. It is these last two aspects that I propose to highlight and re-evaluate within the limits allowed by this study. I hold that the modern term “common sense”, used by several important European philosophers of the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries (see Mesolella 2011), can still be used in philosophy today, but only meaning by it just what I mean, i.e. the primary evidence that constitutes the “basic truth” of each thinking subject due to: i) its absolute immediacy ― being knowable without any former presupposition, and ii) its necessary function as an alethic foundation of thought in all its forms ― being, in the structure of epistemic holism, the very presupposition of any other assertion with a claim to truth. Over the last twenty years I have tried to deepen this theory of alethic logic as a system by returning repeatedly to the same theme and by stressing its very nature, that of a logical system (cfr Livi 2005, 2010, 2013a, 2013b, 2013c). This is just what some scholars have underlined when identifying the structure of alethic logic according to my thought (see Rego 2011; Renzi 2012).

For a clearer explanation I now want to present some synthetic theses which summarize my own notion of “common sense” as the beginning of knowledge and the unique basic criterion for all possible statements being considered true.

A first thesis is that there exists in human knowledge a realm of certainties that express what every thinking subject understands directly from experience, even before attempting to interpret – through reasoning – what he has experienced. Inasmuch as they are derived directly from experience, these certainties require no other epistemic justification than the absolute evidence that their object exists. Consequently, even when their object is reached through spontaneous inference (this the case of the certainty about the existence of God), they manifest a decisively intuitive character; since the inference, in this case, is not a formal scientific reasoning, nor does it regard particular anthropological or cultural conditions.

A second thesis is that those certainties constitute our primary knowledge of concrete reality, that is, the awareness of the reality that de facto presents itself to every thinking subject (the “world in which one is” and one’s own “being in the world” as a personal being). At the same time, in an indissoluble cognitive unity, they represent our primary knowledge of the universal, that is, our intuition of first principles, both those of a metaphysical-logical nature (which render essentially intelligible, though always problematic, the real from which and in which one lives) and those of a metaphysical-ethical nature (which reveal the meaning and significance of one’s own individual and social life, in both temporal and eternal perspectives).

A third thesis is that such certainties, being connatural to human intelligence – that is, being a basic characteristic of human nature as such (at least as long as human nature has at its disposal the necessary material conditions to express itself in ordinary empirical life) – are the patrimony of all men and women, they are universal in time and in space, they are a constant in the midst of all the variables of culture and social conditions, just as they are a constant throughout all the variations (advances and regressions) of an individual’s intellectual developments.

A fourth thesis is that this common basis of certain and indubitable knowledge – indubitable in itself, even if someone like Descartes can say (though not think) he has called them into question through meditative thought – is precisely what allows for the communication of knowledge among individuals. This communication begins with the acquisition of language and is further developed through the educational process and the relationship between parents and children at the developmental age. It also allows for communication of knowledge among different cultures, overcoming (at least potentially) the barriers of incommunicability resulting from the psychological, anthropological (both ethnic and political), philosophical-religious and technical-scientific differences, which, along with the historical component, characterize the various linguistic structures (both structures of meaning and of significance).

A fifth thesis is that those certainties, despite the fact that they obviously have a pre-philosophical nature, are in direct relation to philosophy, especially to philosophy as metaphysics. Actually, certainties of common sense are in all respects coextensive with metaphysical discourse, and are different from it only because of the very scientific dimension of metaphysics, which consists of performing a systematic reflection, in creating new hypotheses of interpretation, and in elaborating conceptual definitions and logical derivations. The certainties of common sense are derived so directly from experience that they furnish philosophical reflection with its necessary material and the first condition for its statements being true. Actually, they furnish metaphysics with the perennial substance of its truest scientific conclusions, those which over the centuries – considering philosophy in its historic dimension – have allowed some historians to speak of a “philosophia perennis”. Incidentally, I maintain that metaphysics, when it assumes common sense certainties as its alethic background, is necessarily realistic; moreover, it is the only kind of true realism (see Gilson 1990; Reffes 2008; Livi 2010b; Livi 2014b).

A sixth thesis is that those same certainties are the conditions of possibility (ex parte obiecti, since they furnish the universal objective horizon from which the specific formal object is extracted) of all particular sciences; sciences of nature, mathematical sciences, human or social sciences, and so on. But, in addition to furnishing the sciences with the objective premises of scientific research, that is, the field of objective reality (presupposed as real and rational) to be delineated and analyzed, those certainties of which we speak are also the “human” premises of scientific work. They are the necessary conditions for exercising such sciences, and therefore the conditions of possibility ex parte subiecti: because they provide the basic reasons, they make it possible for man to be a scientist, and also identify the basic logical instruments, such as the principles of identity and non-contradiction, the principles of efficient and final causality, and the roles of inference through induction and deduction (see Tarskj 1959; Agazzi 1981; Nagel 1961).

A seventh thesis deals with the different qualities of common sense and science. I maintain that the organic body of certainties of which I speak is in itself qualitatively superior to science, including within the notion of “science”, both the metaphysical as well as the particular sciences, that is, all reflexive and systematic knowledge, mediated by reasoning and culture and equipped with its own technical methodology. The superiority of these certainties lies precisely in the quality of the certainty itself. While the certainty of those direct and universal statements is unconditional and absolute, scientific certainty always has limiting characteristics; it is a subjective certainty linked to privileged conditions of experience or intellectual capacity, or it is a certainty available only to members of a specific cultural community equipped with its own research instruments, or it is a certainty that can be reached by all humankind only in relation to particular historical events, or a certain historical level of technological development, or a particular historical perspective on human events, or it is a provisional (hypothetical) certainty, susceptible to falsification or at least revision and adjustment, when it is not a bold working hypothesis of an instrumental nature (that is, as an efficacious tool for research, for science itself, or a mere instrument at the service of technical work or other practical ends). To sum up, while the certainties of direct experience are (per se) incontrovertible, the certainties of science are (per se) debatable, or at least relative, perfectible, revisable; the former belong to all people at all times, the latter belong to some people and only in specific moments of personal or collective history. Secondly, the superiority of these certainties over science is also a primacy in truth: they come first, both logically and chronologically (because every reflection presupposes some direct knowledge to which to return, dealing as we are with secundae intentiones), and are also elevated above other certainties, in the sense that they cannot be contradicted (by the truth; that is, proven false), to the point that every scientific thesis that contradicts those certainties is for that very reason vitiated by error (even if that error can only be demonstrated at the level of science).

An eighth thesis deals with the relationship between particular sciences and metaphysics. I think that a dialogue between particular sciences and metaphysics is certainly necessary, and de facto always beginning anew. However, the threats of reciprocal interference or methodological commingling can be avoided, as can attempts to annex one to the other, deriving from epistemological errors (as in the age of classical philosophical cosmology or the age of modern positivism) if a basis of conceptual agreement is found. This basis can be found precisely by returning to the common epistemological derivation of the certainties and contents of direct experience, thus circumventing any attempt at an impossible, unmediated translation (without the mediation of those basic certainties) of the technical language of metaphysics into the technical language of the other sciences, or vice-versa.

References

Agazzi 1981 = Modern Logic. A Survey, edited by Evandro Agazzi. Dordrecht: Reidel, 1981.

—. 2007 = Valore e limiti del senso comune, edited by Evandro Agazzi. Milano: Franco Angeli, 2007.

Boulter 2007 = Stephen Boulter, The Rediscovery of Common Sense Philosophy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

Chilshom 1972 = Roderick Chilshom, The Foundations of Knowing. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1972.

Davidson 1984 = Donald Davison, Inquires into Truth and Interpretation. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.

—. 1990a = Donald Davison, “The Structure and Content of Truth”, The Journal of Philosophy, 1990, pp. 279-328.

—. 1990b = Donald Davison, Truth and Predication. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.

Frankfurt 2006 = Harry G. Frankfurt, On Truth. New York: Alfred A. Knof Publisher, 2006.

Gilson 1990 = Etienne Gilson, Methodical Realism, Front Royal: Christendom Press, 1990.

Kleist 2000 = Eugene Edward Kleist, Judging Appearances: a Phenomenological Study of the Kantian Sensus commun. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2000.

Livi 2005 = Antonio Livi, Senso comune e logica aletica, Roma: Casa Editrice Leonardo da Vinci, 2010.

—. 2010 = Antonio Livi, Metafisica e senso comune. Sullo statuto epistemologico della “filosofia prima”, Roma: Casa Editrice Leonardo da Vinci, 2010.

—. 2013a = Antonio Livi, A Philosophy of Common Sense. The Modern Discovery of the Epistemic Foundations of Science and Belief. Aurora (Colorado): The Davies Group Publisher, 2013.

—. 2013b = Antonio Livi, “Why Common Sense, When Assumed As the Primary Truth, Furnishes Alethic Logic System With its Very Epistemic Justification”, in La certezza della verità. Il sistema della logica aletica e il procedimento della giustificazione epistemica, edited by Antonio Livi, Roma: Casa Editrice Leonardo da Vinci, 2013, pp. 19-30.

—. 2013c = Antonio Livi, “Perché ogni ricerca di un’adeguata giustificazione epistemica presuppone una coerente teoria sistemica della verità”, in La certezza della verità. Il sistema della logica aletica e il procedimento della giustificazione epistemica, edited by Antonio Livi, Roma: Casa Editrice Leonardo da Vinci, 2013, pp. 217-230.

Ledwig 2007 = Marion Ledwig, Common Sense: Its History, Method, and Applicability. New York & Oxford: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2007.

Mesolella 2012 = I filosofi moderni del senso comune, edited by Mario Mesolella, Roma: Casa Editrice Leonardo da Vinci, 2013.

Nagel 1961 = Ernest Nagel, Science and Common Sense, in The Structure of the Science: problems in the Logic of Scientific Explanation. Indianapolis, Indiana: Hackett, 1961, pp. 547-605.

Newell 1980 = David J. Newell, Philosophy and Common Sense. Washington: University Press of America, 1980.

Piccari 2011 = Paolo Piccari, Conoscenza ordinaria e senso comune, with an Introduction by Mariano L. Bianca. Milano: Angeli, 2011.

Reffes 2008 = A. J. Reffes, The Philosophy of Realism, Common Sense, and Ordinary Experience. Berlin: Progress Publishers, 2008.

Rego 2011 = Thomas Rego, La filosofia del sentido común en Aristóteles. La doctrina aristotélica de la ‘koinai doxai’, los ‘endoxa’ y los primeros principios de la demonstración en comparación con la teoria de Antonio Livi acerca de la sprimeras verades existenciales. Roma: Casa Editrice Leonardo da Vinci, 2011.

Renzi 2012 = Fabrizio Renzi, La logica aletica e la sua funzione critica, Roma: Casa Editrice Leonardo da Vinci, 2012.

Searle 2004 = John R. Searle, Mind: A Brief Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Smith 1995a = «Formal Ontology, Common Sense, and Cognitive Science», in International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 43 (1995), pp. 641-667.

Smith 1995b = Barry Smith, «The Structure of Common Sense World», in Acta Philosophica Fennica, 58 (1995), pp. 290-317.

Tarskj 1944 = Alfred Tarskj, «The Semantic Conception of Truth», in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 4 (1944), pp. 341-376.

—. 1959 = Alfred Tarskj, Introduction to Logic and Methodology of Deductive Sciences. Oxford: Blackwell, 1959.

Posted by admin | Posted in Senza categoria | Posted on 17-08-2010

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A NEW INTERPRETATION OF SAINT ANSELM’S “FIDES QUAERENS INTELLECTUM”

Anselmo d’Aosta, “La fede cerca la comprensione”

 

 

The most famous Anselm of Canterbury’s work, the Proslogion, has been object of many different interpretations from the Middle Ages to our times. Almost all those interpretations deal with the sense and the goal of what Anselm called an «unum argumentum» for proving that God exists. Unfortunately, all major commentaries on Anselm’s argument ― especially those formulated by modern and contemporary philosophers ― are founded on an interpretation of it as an «ontological argument». Now, this  interpretation is quite wrong, since it implies the theory of «ideae innatae», a doctrine which is typical of  Descartes but could not absolutely be attributed to Anselm. In this book a quite new interpretation is proposed by Antonio Livi. This new interpetation is founded on the acknowledgement of the real intention that moved Anselm to write his work, whose former title was Fides quaerens intellectum, that is, Christian faith needs understanding. Anselm was concerned with the theological search of a deeper and more clear  knowledge of what divine revelation says about God’s existence and God’s attributes, like potency, wisdom, mercy, and justice. Anselm realizes that divine truth  is more and more comprehensible if the believer takes in account the very reasons of his believing and uses his reason for making his belief stronger. So, just in the first age of Scholasticism, using pure reason in the theological search is recognized as absolutely necessary for Christian faith. The teaching of Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century will be only a development of Anselm’s genial intuition.

ABOUT THE BOOK “REASONS FOR BELIEVING”

Posted by admin | Posted in APPLICATIONS OF ALETHIC LOGIC | Posted on 31-12-2009

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THE AMERICAN PHILOSOPHER PHILIP LARREY, PROFESSOR  OF EPISTEMOLOGY IN THE LATERAN UNIVERSITY (ROME) PRESENTS ANTONIO LIVI BOOK, REASONS FOR BELIEVING. ON THE RATIONALITY OF CHRISTIAN FAITH (THE DAVIES GROUP, AURORA, COL. 2007).

BOOKS REVIEWS FEATURED BY THE JOURNAL “SENSUS COMMUNIS”

Posted by admin | Posted in Philosophers who wrote about common sense | Posted on 02-07-2009

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CONTEMPORAY WORKS ON COMMON SENSE

TO BE REVIEWED IN “SENSUS COMMUNIS” AND IN OTHER PHILOSOPHICAL JOURNALS

 

 

H. Arendt, The Life of the Mind

 

F. Armengaud, Paradoxe et sens commun: G.E. Moore et la genèse de la philosophie analytique (Paris, 1986).

            To be reviewed in a next issue

 

A. J. Ayer, Metaphysics and Common Sense (London, 1969). 

           

R. J. Bogdan, ed., Mind and Common Sense: Philosophical Essays on Common Sense Psychology (Cambridge, UK, 1991).

           

 F. Castellani and L. Montecucco, eds., Normatività logica e ragionamento di senso comune (Bolonia, 1998).

            Reviewed by L. Duacastella in Sensus communis, 1 (2000), pp. 576-580. 

 

E. Castelli, I paradossi del senso comune (Padova 1970).

Reviewed by Marco M. Olivetti in Sensus communis, 2 (2001), pp. 576-580. 

-  ,ed. Il senso comune (Padua, 1970) 

J. Coates, The Claims of Common Sense: Moore, Wittgenstein, Keynes and the Social Sciences, Cambridge University  Press, Cambridge.

                       

H.-G. Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode (Tubingen, 1960). 

 

R. Garrigou-Lagrange, Le Sens commun, la philosophie de l’etre et les formu,les dogmatiques (Paris, 1909).

           

T.A.F. Kuipers and A.R. Mackor, eds., Cognitive Patterns in Science and Common Sense (Groninger Studies in Philosophy of Science, Logic, and Epistemology) (Amsterdam, 1965)

            

A. Livi, Filosofia del senso comune (Milan, 1990).

          

- Il senso comune tra razionalismo e scetticismo: Vico, Reid, Jacobi, Moore (Milan, 1992).

       

- Il principio di coerenza (Roma, 1997).

Reviewed by P. Manganro, M. A. Mendosa, V. Possenti, and J. J. Sanguineti in Sensus communis, 1 (2000), pp. 105-117.

- Verità del pensiero: fondamenti di logica aletica

            

E. Lobkowicz, Common Sense und Skeptizismus: Studien zur Philosophie von Thomas Reid und David Hume (Weinheim, 1986).

        

D. Lories, Le Sens commun et le jugement du “phronimos”: Aristote et le Stoiciens (Louvain, 1998).

 

L. Marcil-Lacoste, Claude Buffier and Thomas Reid: two Common-Sense Philosophers (Montreeal, 1982)

M. A. Mendosa, Un sentiero interrotto: il “cogito” cartesiano e il suo impossibile esito realistico (Rome, 1999).

Reviewed by G. Zarmati in Sensus communis, 2 (2001), pp. 319-327.

 

M.  Marsonet, I  limiti del  realismo: filosofia, scienza e senso comune (Milan, 2000).

      

G. Modica, La filosofia del “senso comune”  in Giambattista Vico (Caltanissetta, 1989).

            

G. E. Moore, A Defense of Common Sense (London, 1925).

           

A. Musgrave, Common Sense, Science and Scepticism  Cambridge, UK, 1993).

             

D.F. Norton, From Moral Sense to Common Sense: an Essay on the development of Scottish Common Sense Philosophy (San Diego, CA, 1966).

 

A. d’Ors, Dercho y sentido comun: siete lecciones de derecho natural como limite del derecho positivo (Madrid, 1995).

            

L. Pareyson, Verità e interpretazione (Milano 1971).

           

M. Polanyi, Tacit Dimension (New York, 1966).

Reviewed by P. Manganaro in Sensus communis, 2(2001), pp. 568-599.

 

F. Restaino, Scetticismo e senso comune: la filosofia scozzese da Hume a Reid (Bari 1974).

          

Paolo Terenzi, La sociologia del senso comune in Hannah Arendt (Soveria Mannelli, 2002).

Marina Savi, Il concetto di senso comune in Kant (Milan, 1998).

            Reviewed by A. Acerbi in Sensus communis, 1 (2000), pp. 571-575.

 

J. D. Schaeffer, Sensus communis: Vico, Rhetoric amd the Limits of Relativism (London, 1990).

 

L. Turco, Dal sistema al senso comune (Studi sul newtonismo e gli illuministi britannici) (Bonomia, 1974).

            

L. Wittgenstein , Über Gewissheit (London, 1980).

 

I. Yarza, La razionalità dell’etica di Aristotele (Uno studio su “Etica nicomachea” I) (Rome, 2001).

            Reviewd by A. Livi  in Sensus communis , 2(2001), pp. 342-343.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catholic Fideism and its Origins in Modern Philosophy

Posted by admin | Posted in Philosophy and Theology | Posted on 28-06-2009

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Modern Skepticism at the Origins of Fideism

by Antonio Livi

 

As I have already often argued, modern Western philosophy is deeply dependent from Christian revelation. Such a dependence has been demonstrated by contemporary historians on the basis of two undeniable facts: i) the fact that all modern philosophers, but especially René Descartes, assumed from the theological systems of medieval Christian thinkers some of their metaphysical concepts, mainly the concept of God as the infinite Being and the creator of limited beings[1]; and ii) the fact that  many modern Western philosophers were believers in the Christian revelation, and reflected on their faith in order to find a philosophical justification for believing in a non-visible doctrine granted by a visible authority. If this dependence is really a historical fact, – and I think that it is, then all history of modern philosophy should be understood as the history of Christian philosophy in the modern age[2]. So, several modern philosophical categories should be interpreted as produced by some kind of  Christian theological investigation, or at least as deeply connected with Christian theology. I have presented just in the light of this connection the modern philosophical category of “faith”, which is so important after Hume’s Treatises on human understanding, arguing that it is the origin of modern skepticism[3]. Now I want to suggest ideas for interpreting in the same way the historical category of “fideism”, which is evidently connected with the philosophical category of faith.

On Charles Journet’s Theological Method

Posted by admin | Posted in Philosophy and Theology | Posted on 28-06-2009

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Marian Co-redemption

in the Ecclesiology of Charles Journet

by

Antonio Livi

 

The theological work of Card. Charles Journet (1891-1975) has still not been sufficiently taken into consideration by those who, in contemporary Catholic culture, imagine that they are able to weigh up the merits and demerits of the theology of the 20th Century and, on this basis, orientate the theological research of the 21st Century. A few years ago now, in a note accompanying the publication of the acts of the Theological Week in Fribourg dedicated to the figure of Journet,[1] one was given to understand that there’s no need to pay too much attention to a theologian who proved to be (or simply seemed to be) too far removed from the then dominant progressivism (theological modernism, subsequently rehashed as “conciliar theology”) and too much in favour of the theological tradition of Thomism.[2] In reality, these claims of a wanting of “ecclesiality” constitute precisely the weightiest theological credentials of this author, who should be considered the greatest ecclesiologist (a theologian of the mystery of the Church of Christ) of the 20th Century. Theology, in fact, is the more scientific the more it is more animated in its depths by faith, and less by ideologies, which are essentially nothing more than prevalent philosophical currents in the ambit of culture and media. Ideologies, whose philosophical substance is incompatible with recta ratio, and hence also with an orthodox interpretation of the Faith,[3] represent the real methodological barrier to theological research, which is entirely dependent upon the correct relationship between the rational premises of the Faith and rational reflection on the data of the Faith (dogmas) in view of the elaboration of interpretative hypotheses.[4] The hypotheses of interpretation are not all alike: they can be orthodox (compatible with the data of the Faith) or heterodox (incompatible with the data of the Faith, understood as the Church has always and everywhere understood them, eodem sensu eademque sententia). Now, ideologies that pretend to interpret dogma with the categories of immanentistic and historicist thought are necessarily opposed to orthodoxy—either because they follow the criteria of extreme rationalism (such as the theology inspired by Hegel, as in Hans Küng, but also that inspired by Schelling, as in Piero Coda, or by critical rationalism, as in Giuseppe Colombo) or because they allow themselves to be taken in by the dialectic of irrationalism, translating it into theological fideism (consider, for example, the German thinkers who follow Heidegger, or the Italians such as Bruno Forte, in exclusive dialogue with Gianni Vattimo and Vincenzo Vitiello). Such being the way things are, that for which Journet is reproved as having limited his theological work—namely, having kept aloof of cultural fashions and progressivistic cliques, while maintaining instead a long intellectual association with the Thomist philosopher Jacques Maritain—is in fact his title to methodological correctness and spiritual sincerity. If, then, some accuse him of apologetic fanaticism for having always had at heart the defence of Christianity against anti-Christian ideologies,[5] and, paradoxically, still others accuse him of having given in to reactionary ideologies on account of having assumed in his last years an attitude of prudent reserve with regard to the rhetoric of ecumenism whenever such hides an intention to bring about the relegation of Christological dogma and of the ecclesiological orthodoxy that is its fruit,[6] I retain that all this, far from being a reason to re-appraise his historical importance, or put aside his teaching as “out-dated” or “superseded,” is instead a good reason (because theological) to see in Journet a teacher of theology worthy of trust—one of those teachers, that is, of whom we are in need in order that theology might be truly, to use his own expression, a “journey of faith” setting out from dogma.[7] Lastly, the end result of his studies and research—namely, his monumental work on the Church in five volumes[8]—provides us with a confirmation of this by way of the evident, intimate connection between the entirely orthodox edifice of his ecclesiology and his abundant production of works of spirituality, in which one discovers the truly theological function of the contemplative life and of pastoral zeal.[9]

A Brief Review of Livi’s Book “Reasons for Believing”

Posted by admin | Posted in Philosophy and Theology | Posted on 19-06-2009

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REASONS FOR BELIEVING, BY PROF. ANTONIO LIVI

The Davies Group Publishers, Aurora, Col. 2005

 

A review by  Raffaella Petrini

 

 

Before the challenges posed to us by modern skepticism, the words of our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, in his recent speech at the University of Regensburg, in Germany, sounds as a powerful and re-awakening invitation for all Christians, and Catholics in particular, to rediscover and claim the fundamental logic consistency of our religious belief: “It is still necessary and reasonable to raise the question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the tradition of the Christian faith”[1].

 

Reasons for Believing constitutes, in this light, an attempt to cut a “walkable” path across the continuum between rationalism and fideism, that is, the dangerous temptation to totally confine our Catholic religious belief either by the narrow constraint of its rational elements, or by the limitedness of its non-rational parts.