HUME’S FORK David Hume divides knowledge into two categories: ‘relations of ideas’ ( i. e.
tautologies ) and ‘matters of fact’ ( i. e. empirical statements ) .
His book concludes ( on p. 165 ) with the undermentioned paragraph: “When we run over libraries. persuaded of these rules.
what mayhem must we do? If we take in our manus any volume ; of deity or school metaphysics. for case ; allow us inquire. Does it incorporate any abstract logical thinking refering measure of figure? No.Does it incorporate any experimental logical thinking refering affair of fact or being? No.
Perpetrate it so to the fires: for it can incorporate nil but sophism and semblance. ” LOGICAL POSITIVISM Hume’s Fork was updated by modern logical rationalists ( such as A. J.
Ayer. Antony Flew and Gilbert Ryle ) who proposed the Verification Principle.This claims that sentences are merely meaningful if they are tautologies ( which are true because of the definitions of the footings involved.
e. g. a square has four sides. six is bigger than four ) .
or if they are in some manner through empirical observation verifiable ( i. e. connected with existent experience. e.
g. Harold lost at Hastings. negatrons are both atoms and moving ridges ) . Any other statements will be meaningless. because their truth is non decided by either definitions or grounds. Harmonizing to Ayer. this makes treatment about faith and morality meaningless.
Religious statements like God is love are non false. they are incapable of being either true or false.SIX IMPORTANT CONCEPTS Area Term a priori Meaning Knowable before experience. through idea entirely Empirical ; known through experience has to be true ( in all possible universes ) capable of being either true or false tautologies ; statements concerned merely with significances of words statements concerned with information about the universe Example five is bigger than four Problems Can anything be known without experience? ( e. g. maths ) . Could you cognize something about the universe a priori? Could person ( e.
g. God ) know everything a priori? Is it possible that all truths are necessary. even empirical 1s?Or is it possible that there is no such thing as a necessary truth? It may be arbitrary which footings are definitions. and which are claims about the universe.
We might reorganize a linguistic communication so that the analytic truth became man-made. and frailty versa. Epistemology a posteriori necessary Metaphysics contingent analytic Language man-made autos have four wheels air is a gas air contains oxygen there’s a rock in my shoe trigons have three sides Hume and the Logical Positivists believe that these footings fall purely into two groups: a ) a priori-necessary-analytic. and B ) a posteriori-contingent-synthetic.This means that if something is needfully true. this is because it is true by definition. and can be known by believing about it.
If a statement is about the existent universe. so it could be false. and you need see to cognize it. ( This would instantly govern out the Ontological Argument for God ) . These empiricists claim that a priori man-made truths are impossible.
whereas positivists like Kant think you can cognize things about the universe merely by believing about them ( e. g. maths ) . APPLICATION TO RELIGION Statements are merely meaningful ( it is claimed ) if they are true by definition. or if they are empirical.So which group do statements about faith autumn into? If they are merely true by definition. so foreigners can disregard them because faith is merely an arbitrary game like cheat.
If they are through empirical observation verifiable. so doubting philosophers can demand to see some relevant grounds. Flew’s Gardener Parable ( p. 225 ) is a demand for grounds. If none can be offered. so the claim is meaningless ( non ‘false’ ) . DEFENCES OF RELIGION The most basic defense mechanism is to deny empiricist philosophy ( see the positions of Plato. Anselm.
Descartes and Kant ) . Logical Positivism can be attacked.Its chief jobs are 1 ) the Verification Principle can’t be stated clearly – it is either so precise that it eliminates reasonable conversation. or so obscure that it allows spiritual linguistic communication ; 2 ) the Verification Principle must itself be either a tautology or through empirical observation verifiable ; 3 ) a sentence like God is love can be proved meaningful by linking it really mistily and remotely with some empirical observation. BRAITHWAITE’S DEFENCE Braithwaite ( following the ulterior Wittgenstein ) claims that linguistic communication is meaningful. non if it passes the Verification Principle. but if it has an appropriate usage in existent life.
The chief usage of spiritual linguistic communication is to show the purposes of trusters. In Braithwaite’s position this is chiefly a moral purpose. Because a sentence like God is love is portion of a manner of life in which the talker is perpetrating themselves to populate by love.
the sentence is meaningful. HICK’S DEFENCE ( ‘ESCHATOLOGICAL VERIFICATION’ ) Hick’s defense mechanism is that spiritual linguistic communication is a committedness to something which will go on in the hereafter. and so it can non be verified now ( e. g.
decimals of? non yet discovered ) . He tells the fable of the Celestial City ( p. 26 ) .He discusses jobs with cognizing in an hereafter whether faith has so been verified. but clearly it could be. Suppose. for illustration. that we confronted God.
and were overwhelmed by his love? Such religion in the hereafter may be unfastened to other expostulations ( ‘why believe this? ’ ) . but the claim seems at least to be meaningful ( merely like Aristotle’s job about the truth today of ‘there will be a sea battle tomorrow’ ) . because Hick has shown that there is some ( future ) grounds which is relevant. Minimal reading: The Existence of God ( ed. J. Hick ) pp. 217-220. 225-27.