Thursday, September 20, 2012

Epistemology in October

October on Helm's Deep will have a distinctly epistemological feel to it. If economics is the 'dismal science' then perhaps epistemology is a if not the dismal part of philosophy, another part being ethics. My old Head of Department thought that ethics was 'not a subject', any more than was the philosophy of religion. Yet he generously gave his support in the Department to the development of courses in both areas. (He thought that these were not subjects but then, he was prone to reflect, who was he? Only one amongst several colleagues. Even if you think to yourself that you have won the argument, you might nevertheless lose the vote. Not very Talibanesque, but very civilised: let's hear the arguments, and then take a binding vote.) 

So epistemology is perhaps a fit topic for reflection as, at least in the Northern hemisphere, the nights get longer.

To begin with, during the first days of the month I shall post a piece about scepticism and 'hoping against hope', drawing on (and re-presenting) Pascal's familiar Wager Argument. And towards the end of the month (or perhaps into November, the nights getting even longer),  I shall discuss a little-known (or perhaps I had better say 'little-discussed') article on God's knowledge of Alvin Plantinga's that has an uncharacteristic apophatic edge to it.  I shall discuss what Plantinga says and have some things to say about the place of apophatic language in theology (including of course philosophical theology) more generally.