Philosopher Baby

I have been meaning to write about this sometime….

Elijah, I have come to realize is in a stage of philosophical discovery. That is, he is learning the basic foundational elements of knowledge of the world, how it works, so that he can go on to learn other things. This may be obvious, but in addition I want to claim that many of the things he is learning as a simple creation of God are the very philosophical problems that consume most texts and authors historically.

Here is a list of historic problems that also double as developmental “epistemology” (I guess we could call it): the existence of an external world (against Berkeley-ian solipsism), the existence of other minds, the existence of objects which can be perceived by senses, the trustworthiness of senses, the persistence of objects, the trustworthiness of induction (though this is certainly a later development, especially seen once time is grasped), the existence in and relation of time to reality, semantics, the structure of language, the difference between de re and de dicto speech.

I really believe this is the case. I guess this should be obvious from a quick survey of naturalistic epistemology. Quine is well known for his armchair developmental psychology talking about what children can perceive etc. Sellars also goes on at length about basic sense perception, and how babies acquire concepts, or begin with concepts to allow them to understand the ‘raw data’ they are perceiving. I suppose babies represent the purest, most unadulterated empiricist test case.

Of course the reason why Elijah doesn’t need some gaudy empiricist contraption to justify his knowledge (just as most of us are content with our understanding of the world as trustworthy) is that he is God’s creation living in God’s world. The pieces were manufactured to work together. That is to say that his epistemology and the world he lives in are manufactured to be compatible. In fact, I would argue, it is these very basic concepts that constitute the clear revelation of God to His creation. God’s nature is implicit in the nature and trustworthiness of these fundamental concepts, or what Wittgenstein called “hinge beliefs” (those on which all things turn.)


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