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In the history of science and philosophy, five approaches for making claims to knowing truth have weathered the test of time. Whenever people attempt to make a point, the methods used to support such persuasions will inevitably pass through any of five avenues of epistemology. These five methods for making Truth Claims are easily remembered by a phrase coined by Dr Matt:
"I REPAIR my thinking about Truth"
From the preceding phrase comes the acronym "REPAIR" which
R = Rationalism
When you think you're right about an idea, the case for your contention becomes more convincing as these Epistemologies are properly applied.
Epistemology is a philosophical field that explores the question: "What does it mean to know?" The Latin word "Episteme" means Knowledge or Knowing; thus, Epistemology is Knowledge-ology or the study of Knowing. The ultimate aim of all "knowing" has always been . . . to know Truth.
Breaking down the component parts of the acronym R. E. P. A. I. R., we start with the letter "I". Of course, "I" does not represent an epistemological method; instead, the letter "I" helps you remember that making convincing knowledge claims is NOT adequately done through unsubstantiated opinions coming from Me, Myself, and . . . "I."
I = I shouldn't expect my opinions to be worth much
Everyone has a "right" to their opinion, but not everyone's opinion will be . . . "right" — or adequate or persuasive. When opinions are buttressed by these approaches for advancing evidence, then assertions carry weight — and are more readily received by intelligent observers.
In courts of law, cases are made upon the merits of evidence! So the burning question is this: What evidence exists that lends credence to a claim of knowledge — a claim to truth?
In a nutshell, I REPAIR My Thinking about TRUTH is described this way:
2. E = Empiricism: This Epistemological avenue uses the "head-logic" of rationalism and adds evidence that can be systematically verified via sensory input. This approach maintains: That which I can prove to my senses is true.
3. P = Pragmatism: This approach relies upon results, typically time tested results. While the scientific method bases its claims in controlled experiments, pragmatic conclusions are derived via practical life experience. The pragmatist maintains: That which "bears fruit" & "works" is true.
I = I shouldn't expect my opinions to be worth much if they aren't substantiated.
5. R = Revelation: Whether one believes in the existence of a Higher Power, Creator, or God, the epistemology of Revelation is one that is used in every corner and culture of the world. This method maintains: That which God reveals is True; Revelations from God establish Truth.
Here are five avenues of epistemology, ways of knowing truth, described in detail:
As long as you stay within the realm of rationalism, you may be frustrated in attempts to prove your own existence to others by logic alone. But this question is quickly solved by invoking a different epistemology: Just punch the skeptical guy in the eye, and skip Cartesian meditations for proof.
By so doing, you will immediately offer "empirical" evidence to prove your existence. One solid sock in the noggin provides pragmatic proof of both your existence and the reality of the guy with the black eye. At which point you may place the burden of proof upon the pugilized skeptic: "Prove to me that you do not have a black eye!"
Cartesian meditations are a classic example of rationalism used as a method for establishing claims of knowing. Descartes began his renowned reasoning with a systematic doubting of everything: doubting the world that surrounded him and even doubting the existence of his own body. He wanted to arrive at a conclusion that would not rest upon an unproven premise. As he doubted, . . . especially the existence of the physical world around him, he concluded:
But Rationalism is only one possible avenue for advancing claims to truth, and the associated implication of "truth" as Accurate Ideas is only one possible answer to the question, "What is truth?" and more specifically, "What is the nature of truth?" The acronym REPAIR helps us remember 5 ways of making truth claims, with each epistemological avenue having an associated implication of the "nature of truth."
While some scientific types traditionally dismiss belief in a creation by a Creator, ironically some Empiricists put their faith in forces that supposedly created Big Bang. Just ask a Big-Bang Believer to explain the existence of heat, pressure, and other conditions that combined to bring about BIG BANG — but existed before the Bang? Having an Atheist answer this question is commensurate to having a Theist explain the existence of God, both must rely upon faith.
Though some Big-Bang Believers try to hide behind scientific rhetoric, their belief in Big Bang beginnings is parallel to belief in God — at least parallel in prove-ability. Nevertheless there is compelling evidence of a Creation, for hundreds of human beings have seen God (or messengers from God) and given their written account of that occurrence.
|In contrast, last I checked, there are no eye witnesses who watched Big Bang; neither can the preexisting "forces" that supposedly brought forth Big Bag, be empirically or logically proved — they can only be assumed or believed. And if secular science asserts that there were no preexisting "forces" or "heat" or "pressure" that came together at just the right moment and in just the right way to BANG existence . . . into existence, THEN secularists must put their faith in the mystical and illogical explanation called creation ex nihilo — the assumption that something came from nothing.
From an empirical perspective, the nature of truth is embedded in accurately stated hypotheses — empirically supported word-propositions. This version of truth is called "propositional truth," with the proposition being the hypothesis. Because hypotheses are always expressed in words, the "nature of truth" becomes inseparably embedded within language; Truth is assumed to be a function accurately stated words, and these words, in turn, correlate with accurate ideas about world realities. Ultimately, the Epistemology of Empiricism puts "truth" into a metaphysical realm of accurate ideas.
|By controlling experimental conditions, more adequate conclusions can be drawn as to what is actually working. In the end, two epistemologies are better than one! And if you don’t agree with this conclusion, YOU . . . are a dimwitted chowderhead!
Name-Calling is NOT one of the five time-tested methods for making claims to knowledge, but is a common ploy for making points and promoting persuasion. I mention this tactic under the heading of "pragmatism," because sometimes slandering opposing opinions and/or opponents . . . "works." On the other hand, Name-Calling is often used by those who can't make an intelligent argument.
In politics, this approach is intentionally applied, and is called "mud slinging." Negative political campaign ads often yield pragmatic results. Pragmatically speaking, negative ads stick in the minds of the public better than the positive ads. So tactics can "work" but the pragmatic fruits are NOT necessarily evidence of truthful ends . . . or truthful means.
Appeal to authority is commonly used to break logjams of controversy. In courts of law, authority is invoked via "expert witnesses," establishing greater credibility to certain claims in the mind of a judge and jury. Citing authoritative sources is equivalent to calling in the heavyweights to pummel opponents!
Thus into the fray of conceptual controversy enters Aristotle and Einstein as their views support ours. As we find authorities that agree with our views, we can stick out a tongue and taunt: "My authority is smarter than yours." This epistemological avenue basically boils down to the elementary playground scoff: "My dad is bigger than your dad!"
But better than simply seeking to support one's viewpoints, is seeking for Truth — knowledge of things as they are now, as they have been in the past, and as they will be in the future. Those who love wisdom, will allow Truth to inform and change present opinions.
Scripture is an oft-cited source of Revelation; but there are multiple versions of "scripture" allegedly inspired by different deities. So unless people perceive a common Creator, confusion is inevitable. And even when people agree on the same Source of Revelation, differing interpretations of text result in dead-end arguments — Rationalism in its primitive form.
Because people do not agree upon the same Sources of Revelation, proving points must necessarily look to the other epistemological approaches: Rationalism, Empiricism, Pragmatism, and appeal to mortal Authority can buttress the validity of "Revelation" claims.
The agnostic/secularist tendency is to disregard scripture-based propositions in one dismissive stroke: "Oh, that just religion!" But even if a book is not deemed "Revelation from God," that book is still at very least a book written by someone, if not God. And the ideas therein can be evaluated upon their own merits, using the standards of the other four epistemologies. If statements coming from any source are wise and insightful then . . . let them be wise and insightful — regardless of who allegedly authored them.
Any book of so-called "Scripture" can be listened to and learned from, as Literature at least. Any assertion originating from any book, to include the Bible, may have value based upon the weight of its Empirical, Rational, or Pragmatic merits! If an idea or action works and bears fruit . . . it is of value; If an idea or action is logical and reasonable . . . it may be of value; and if anything can be verified to the senses . . . that reality may have value.
So when citing "Revelation" as a method for making truth claims, such assertions are strengthened through appeals to logic (Rationalism), orderly observation and experiment (Empiricism), fruitful experience (Pragmatism), and the words of wise men and women (Authority).
Pragmatism plays a part in scientific approaches. The "it-works" standard becomes more reliable as scientists establish the causal source from which pragmatic fruits grow—within the controlled conditions of an "experiment." Triangulating multiple methods is more powerful than mere testimonial — the most common pragmatic persuasion. Because the scientific method uses more than one epistemological approach, it is able make more convincing claims to "knowing."
What is Truth? Most likely, it's not what you think:
Are you a lover of Truth? . . .
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