Myodicy, Issue 25, January 2006

Reformational Movement:
Documentary Series

Number 4:
Runner's Introduction
to Philosophy

Second Instalment

What follows is # 4 in the documentary series on the Reformational Movement and Its History. Click here to view the table of contents and homepage of the series as a whole.

Click here to read the preface to this set of student notes.

* * * * * * *

[PAGE 13]

Lecture # 16, November 17, 1964

Human Identity:

We cannot find the "I," our identity, in the aspects of the modal scale. It goes much deeper. Human identity cannot be found through philosophical knowledge. Human identity is religious knowledge. It is to be found in Revelation.

The Religious Root of Man:

The Scriptures reveal man as having his religious root in his heart. The concept of heart is found in both the Old and the New Testaments but nowhere else. The Dutch theologians, Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck, differed on this point. Kuyper believed in the centrality of the heart while Bavinck believes in a combination of emotion, intellect and will.

Most Christians today still believe the conclusions of the ancient Greeks on the subject of body and soul. Man is made up of a material body and a rational soul. The soul can be divided into the faculties of reason, emotion (feeling) and will. It is reason to that keeps emotion and will in check.

Body is the functioning of man as reflected in the modal scale. It is made up of acts. The soul is the religious selfhood of man as found in the heart. Soul is more basic; it is the inner man. Body is the expression of the soul. Both body and soul must be renewed due to the fall into sin. By flesh, the apostle Paul means that which has to do with sin. Spirit, as conceived of by Paul, is that which is above sin. Carnal refers to that which has fallen away from God. Spirit is that which has been renewed and redirected by the Holy Spirit. The "I" of man is an imaging of the God who created him.

[PAGE 14]

Lecture # 17, November 19, 1964

The Problem of Self:

Philosophy is a human activity having to do with scientific, theoretical knowledge. Self-knowledge involves religious knowledge. Most philosophers, in the pursuit of self-knowledge, have gone wrong in thinking in theoretical terms about self. The question often asked is: What is it that perceives, the eye or the I? This problem is also raised by Bertrand Russell (1872-?) in his Problems of Philosophy. Russell comes to the conclusion that it is the self that is acquainted with sense data. In this, Russell follows David Hume (1711-1776) as closely as possible. He cannot accept Hume's position outright because Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) has proved Hume's position untenable. Hume claimed that we are not acquainted with the "I" but rather with thoughts and impressions. Hume mentioned the existence of self and the continuance in existence of self. In self, he distinguished simplicity and identity.

Hume also believed that all ideas begin in impressions. The idea of self cannot be referred back to any impression. Any such impression would have to be constant as the idea of self perdures. There is no such impression; thus, there is no such idea.


René Descartes (1596-1650) began a new method in philosophy. He sought a "certainty of deduction" for philosophy like that in geometry. According to Descartes, there are two kinds of certainty: "certainty of intuition" and "certainty of deduction." The problem of seventeenth-century philosophy was to find a rational criterion by which to tell true from false. Descartes wanted to use self-evident, axiomatic starting points. He would have philosophy resemble geometry.

The Cartesian school of philosophy identified man with mind, that is, man is his reasoning. By reasoning they meant geometric reasoning as distinguished from pre-scientific reasoning. They reduced God, man and the cosmos to geometric terms.

Lecture # 18, November 24, 1964

Philosophy as a Science:

We may distinguish philosophy first of all as a human activity under the law of God. Secondly, the result of philosophizing may also be termed philosophy. Pre-scientific knowledge exists as activity and result. In scientific knowledge we distinguish between the special sciences and philosophy.

[PAGE 15]

Positivism arose in the second half of the nineteenth century when men felt they had to be objective. Positivists feel that by putting together the results of the special sciences, they can form a view of man. This is the task of philosophy. The existential and irrationalist movements in philosophy arose as a violent reaction against positivism.

Analytical understanding of a particular type of functioning constitutes a science. The only science developed by the Greeks was geometry. Thus, Aristotle thought in geometric terms about logic. This gave rise to deductive logic. With the rise of the observational-experimental approach to science, inductive reasoning was devised. In the nineteenth century, historiography arose. History, too, has its own method. This method has not yet been reflected in the development of logic.

Hume's View of the Idea of the Self:

According to David Hume (1711-1776), all human experience can be reduced to vivid immediate impressions and vague, dull afterthoughts or ideas. Ideas cannot originate independent of impressions. Hume claimed that we experience psychically a succession of impressions but he feels no constant impression of self. He failed to see that this impression of self may be on a much deeper level. Thus, he was forced to conclude that there is no such thing as self.

Lecture # 19, December 1, 1964

Empiricistic Epistemology:

Empiricism says that there are two stages in knowledge:
i) The mind is passive and the sense organs receive impressions. John Locke was one of the formulators of this theory. He connects the sense organs directly to the mind leaving media like the retina in the eye out of the picture. In doing so, he makes a "metabasis eis allos genos," a transition into another genus. He did not account for the transition.
ii) The mind becomes active and evaluates, compares and combines the impressions made upon it. The process of knowledge takes place in the head.

Criticisms of Hume:

Three criticisms of Hume's view are:
i) It presupposes that man functions in parts; he is not integral.
ii) "Metabasis eis allos genos."
iii) The mind does not form ideas but only passively receives them.

Hume also examined of the problem of causation. Causation is usually thought of as a transfer of power. Hume denied causation because there is no impression in which it is rooted. He claimed that he had no sense impression of energy transfer. Still, he did sense causation. He saw it as an association of the mind between two related phenomena. Experiencing causation is only a psychical habituation.

[PAGE 16]

Other inadequacies of the view are: That experience is more than sense imagery. An aesthetic experience is higher on the modal scale than a psychical impression. The laws of the aesthetic cannot be reduced to the psychical. Hearing and seeing are not normative. There is always more than one modality involved in experience. Sense impressions are not merely psychical.

Aristotle's View of Body and Mind:

Aristotle's conception of body and mind dominated philosophy and psychology many centuries afterward. Hume and Kant are the two greatest critics of Aristotle's view. Kant argues that Aristotle's view is contradictory. One cannot attempt to know oneself since it is the self that does the knowing. The mind can be known as object but not as subject.

Lecture # 20, December 8, 1964

Kant and Hume on Mind and Self:

Kant explains our view of selfhood in psychical terms. Mind means thought processes. A Self is something far larger; it is identity. The two are equated by Hume. Hume's thesis is that the mind is the sum total of all the experiences that fill the individual's life.

Perceptions are bound together by the following laws of association:
i) the law of contiguity or nearness in space,
ii) the law of continuity; succession or nearness in time,
iii) the law of resemblance.
Hume fails to connect these laws of association to the self.

Kant felt that Hume did not point of the unity of the mind. Hume did not give the laws an agent. The missing agent is the self. The laws of association also presuppose memory which Hume did not establish. And memory, too, must have an agent. Kant felt that there was a unity in mind; that unity must be found in the self. He called this unity synthetic unity of apperception.

One part of the "I" may never be objectified as the person. The logical subjective pole thinks about the person but it cannot think about itself. Whenever logical thinking is going on, the objective and subjective pools must be present. This he calls the transcendental unity of apperception. Fichte, who followed Kant, made the transcendental unity of apperception the self.

There are many kinds of consciousness besides logical consciousness. Kant reduces everything to logical consciousness with the synthetic unity of apperception as agent.

[PAGE 17]

Lecture # 21, December 10, 1964

Kant and Fichte on Self:

Within the logical self we can distinguish the empirical objective self (me) and the synthetic unity of apperception (I). Fichte declared that the logical subjective pole was identical with the I (self). According to Kant, every experience is inside of logical consciousness. The I is the I of logical judgment.

The following arguments may be advanced against Kant and Fichte:
i) Man experiences a diversity of states that Kant's view of logical consciousness cannot account for.
ii) Selfhood is reflected in every aspect of the modal scale, not just in the analytical modality.

The Office of Man:

Man is a distinct creation of God under the Law of God. Man's selfhood is an expression of what God wills and is a reflection of this intention. The self is directed two ways, work and worship. God gave man the office of lord or vice-gerunt of the creation. The task must be carried out in singleness of heart. The office of man is threefold, that is, it has three different aspects, prophet-priest-king.

Metaphysics and Ontology:

The three foundational questions of metaphysics are:
i) the question of God,
ii) the question of the human self,
iii) the question of the cosmos conceived as a totality.
Kant believed that these three questions cannot be answered. Metaphysics is not synonymous with ontology. Ontology does not seek to answer the three foundational questions of metaphysics. Metaphysics as a branch of philosophy is invalid since the foundational questions of metaphysics cannot be answered apart from religious revelation.

Lecture # 22, December 15, 1964

The History of the Interpretation of the Word of God:

A Christian can be neither a rationalist nor an irrationalist. The 17th and 18th centuries were characterized by a rationalist climate of opinion. To the rationalist, truth is found only in rational, logical processes. The rationalist views the Bible as a book of logical propositions and interprets it as such. Theology was strongly influenced by rationalism in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries. The theologians of the time viewed theological truth in rational form and defended it as such.

[PAGE 18]

The irrationalist or existentialist movement arose as a reaction against rationalism. To the rationalist, truth is a matter of personal encounter. There is no attempt made to distinguish subject and object. Existentialism is a subjectivistic philosophy. Many Christian theologians, notably Karl Barth and Emil Brunner, have been influenced by irrationalism and view the Bible in its light. They deny that the Bible itself is the Word of God. The Bible is the Word only when there is an encounter between God and Man (the Divine-human encounter). The revelation or encounter is momentary (the moment of crisis). The truth lies in the encounter. Thus no culture can be Christian because no revelation that is momentary can be put down in constant form.

The Revelatory Character of the Word of God:

There is a definite relationship between the written Word and the Word of God as it works in our hearts. The Word contains the record of God's dealings with men. What the Bible is intending to convey is that Jesus Christ has come to work redemption and that he calls us to salvation. The Scriptures are secondarily the Word. Jesus Christ is the Word, the Way, the Truth, the Light.

The Word of God reveals central truths concerning the self and concerning the integrality of the creation. The Scriptures do not add spiritual truths to logical truths but rather reveal the essence of the creation as a whole. The Scriptures redirect man and reveal to him his place in the cosmos. The Word, however, does not tell about the essence of God. All Scriptural truth must be viewed in the light of man's relationship to God. To say that God is immutable mean simply that he is faithful in his dealings with men. The truth is a religious, revelational exhibit.

The Thomist, and consequently the Catholic, view of the function of the Word of God, or Grace, is that it complements or adds to Nature. The Reformation denied this and posited that Grace corrects Nature.

Lecture # 23, January 5, 1965


The Greeks absolutized the logical modality. To them, the essence of reality is the logical principle of meaning. Through the Fall, the ontology of the Greeks is reduced.

Reality has passed through the events of Creation, Fall and Redemption. This affects the Christian's view of reality but it leaves that of the unbeliever untouched.

[PAGE 19]


Metaphysics is a pseudo-science because it deals with the religious questions of God, the soul and the universe. These problems are not empirically observable. The church has for centuries divided knowledge into natural and religious knowledge. And there had also to be found a place for metaphysics. It had been elevated by rational processes above natural knowledge but it was not in the realm of supra-natural or religious knowledge because religious knowledge is gained only by faith in the Word of God. Thus, it took its place somewhere between.

Types of Knowledge:

Religious knowledge is not an addition to natural knowledge. The Scriptures reveal the significance of the total creation. The center of the creation is man's religious relation.

In Reformed circles today there are still some who follow this dualistic view of knowledge. There is one kind of knowledge, natural knowledge, gained through common grace. Religious knowledge is gained through special grace. Concerning this view the Canons of Dort say in Article IV of the Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine: "There remains, however, in man since the fall the glimmerings of natural light, whereby he retains some knowledge of God, of natural things, and of the knowledge of good and evil, and shows some regard for virtue and for good outward behavior. But so far is this light of nature from being sufficient to bring him to a saving knowledge of God and to true conversion that he is incapable of using it to aright even in things natural and civil. Nay further, this light, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted and hinders in unrighteousness, by doing which he becomes inexcusable before God."

The Canons make it clear that the glimmerings are in the creation but do not express a truth in natural man himself. Man holds the truth down in unrighteousness.

The problem faced by the Christian church in the second century was how to reconcile the religious knowledge of the Christian religion with the knowledge of the Greeks and Romans. The early Christians failed to see that the Greeks and Romans were abnormal through the Fall. The Church erred in accepting Greek and Roman natural knowledge. Christianity compromised in order to fit into the empire.

[PAGE 20]

Lecture # 24, January 7, 1965


Under this pagan scheme (Grace omitted) supreme authority and the highest allegiance belonged to the state. The pagans failed to see that Christ has all authority and that he delegates his authority to the different spheres.

The Christian communities were first set up in the Empire as separate societies. A hierarchy led by the Pope, its leading spirit, evolved by the fourth century. The church drew a line between natural life in the realm of the emperor and supernatural life in the realm of the Pope. This way it was possible for them to live in the Empire. The Pope supposedly represents the total authority of Christ. He is the personal substitute for Christ on earth. Thus, with the fall of the Empire, the pope's soon claimed to represent all authority, even temporal. Kings and emperors received their power from the Pope. The Pope at least realized that the authority of Christ penetrates to all spheres of life.

Christ renews the direction of the entire creation. To limit his sphere is to deny him.

Finding Truth:

It is said that the two ways of finding truth are logical analysis and mystical experience. Science is public in that its phenomena can be reproduced. Mystical experience is private in that it cannot be reproduced. This view speaks in subjective terms about religion while religion is actually God's universal revelation of himself.


Every man has a "sensus deitatis" and a "sensus legis." He is bound in what he can do. The Greeks sensed the law but they had no knowledge of it.

God called forth the creation out of nothing and subjected it to his law.

[PAGE 21]

Aquinas said that there are two kinds of laws, natural laws and spiritual laws. God is the author of both; thus we may assume a harmony. To the natural belong logic, politics, economics, aesthetics, etc. These spheres are untouched by the Fall and Redemption. Reason is the supreme guide here. As an outcome of this view, some Christians read the Scriptures as the law for spiritual life alone.

William of Occam (died 1349) decided that reason deals with universals. God is the individual. At any moment he is free from any other. He can do one thing one moment and the opposite the next. God is outside and free from the realm of law (deus ex lex).

Lecture # 25, January 12, 1965

William of Occam:

Nominalism arose around the end of the Middle Ages. To nominalists, universals are only names because all things are individual. No two things in nature are the same although we do sometimes group things together.

William of Occam (died 1349) was a nominalist. He also held to the Nature-Grace scheme. Occam believed that laws bind individuals together. However, they only hold for the lower world of nature. God has no essential and consistent nature that binds his acts together. He is sovereign in that he is not bound to anything he has previously done. Nor is the Bible a guiding and abiding principle that we can come back to and govern our lives by because God's will is of a momentary nature and cannot be set down once and for all. There can be no Christian culture since everything connected with God is of a momentary nature. For Occam, freedom is freedom from law. Therefore law and freedom are opposites.

Martin Luther:

Martin Luther (1483-1546) studied at the University of Erfurt, an Occamist school. His philosophy professor was Gabriel Biel. Through his own personal religious experience Luther realized that man stands in his totality before God and that all of life is religiously significant. Trying to express his views, Luther fell back on long-established modes of expression and patterns of thought. He had been taught at Erfurt that freedom and law are opposites. He also took over some of Aristotle's Form-Matter scheme.

[PAGE 22]

Luther set out his own view in the two tractates: On the Freedom of the Christian Man in 1520 and On Secular Authority: In How Far It Ought to be Obeyed in 1522. According to Luther the Spirit of God lifts the spirit of man up out of the realm of law into the realm of freedom. The Christian is essentially free from the law. While yet in the body he must externally obey the law for the sake of civic righteousness and so that the gospel may be proclaimed.

The Nineteenth Century German Idealists:

Georg Hegel (1770-1831) and the other nineteenth-century German idealists, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), [TP: A note-taking error on my part, since Kant lived in the eighteenth century.] Johann Fichte (1762-1814) and Friedrich Schelling (1775-1854) posited that freedom is the cultivation of the human spirit. The spirit is free from the law.

Freedom and Law:

Freedom is limited to a sphere of law. The two are therefore not antithetical. The problem of law is inescapable. No thinker can help but take a position on the law. Every philosopher deals with modal differences. God put the creation under law.

Lecture # 26, January 14, 1965

Law and Religion:

Religion is not a private matter over against science as a public matter. Religion is public because the entire creation is religiously structured and is revelatory in character. In the whole creation is the law, evoking a response from man. Freedom presupposes as its essential condition law. The Truth is the total structure of God's creation. It cannot be fragmented. Religious truth is not a dimension; it is all of knowledge. Regularities do not constitute law; they are the effects of law.

When men behave lawlessly, there are still laws functioning, e.g., organic, psychical, aesthetic, etc. In the lawful creation, lawlessness is rooted in law.

Questions Basic to All Greek Philosophy:

I. What is the LAW and
  where is it to be located?
  A. Functionalists
    1. Subjectivists
    2. Objectivists
  B. Plato -- Realism

II. What is the relation between
  "the universal" and "the individual"?
  A. Universalists
  B. Individualists

[PAGE 23]

The Problem of Law in Greek Philosophy:

Almost every Greek philosopher answered the question of law from a functionalistic point of view, that is, they identified the law with responses. Functions (objects) are identified with law out of all proportion. This type of functionalism is objectivism. Objectivism errs in that it seems to think that man assigns an object its place in reality when this is the task of God. Because we tend to see subject functions first, the early Greeks were subjectivists. They failed to see the difference between subject and object functions. Later Greeks came to the realization that there is a difference between the two. These objectivists then made object functions the law for subject functions. The religious situation of the Greeks forced them to read wrongly what they were dealing with.

Plato's realism, which must be distinguished from functionalism, was another attempt at solving this problem. Though it is not the solution, it is a much better analysis. Plato said that there is a binding force in the world, the law. It does not deal with functionality. Process and law must be distinguished.

"The Universal" and "the Individual":

Universal means common because it is common to the individual. Individualism is not a Christian notion. Christianity is communal but not socialistic. The individual is in the universal and the universal is in the individual. The two interpenetrate. Everything under the law is both universal and individual. Neither one is rooted in the other.

Universalists believe that the universe is the only real thing. Individuals are only moments in the life of the universal. Georg Hegel (1770-1831) taught the Germans to think as universalists. Thus, the rise of the German state under Bismarck, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Hitler. John Locke (1632-1704), on the other hand, taught the Anglo-Saxons to think as individualists. [END OF TERM

Return to the list of topics

Click here to go to the Myodicy home page.