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Is there a foundation for (Thomistic) epistemology?

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Daniel:
I started reading D. Q. McInerny's textbook Epistemology, and so far I have only made it through the first chapter, but there's something I don't understand. The author takes it for granted that the external world is both real and knowable. He more or less says that it's common sense and that you'd have to be insane to think otherwise.

But I'm not so sure. The external world's reality, I accept. But I'm not seeing how we know that it's knowable. This was one of the questions I was hoping the Epistemology book would answer, but it seems merely to assert it as true without even trying to give an answer. (This is assuming that he won't go into more depth later in the book.)

But I am wondering, is there some other science that must be mastered first, before one is able to study epistemology? What science is the one that answers the question as to the knowability of reality, in order that we may take its knowability for granted when we study epistemology? (The author did explicitly say that it's a bad idea to start with Epistemology, but none of the other sciences that he mentioned seem to have anything to do with this particular question. Unless it's covered in his Philosophical Psychology book or something. I have the whole six-volume set of books, and originally started with the first book (the one on the Philosophy of Nature), but I didn't get very far because of similar assertions he was making. He seems to assert many things without first establishing them. I don't like that. Makes the whole thing seem suspect and ungrounded. So I skipped to Epistemology hoping to find answers, but it didn't seem to work.)

Pon de Replay:

--- Quote from: Daniel on February 06, 2021, 07:46:19 AM ---He seems to assert many things without first establishing them. I don't like that.
--- End quote ---

I’m afraid you will find this a perennial fault of philosophers and theologians.  On the subject of epistemology, I consider it a wild goose chase to try to know how you can know what you know.  Ultimately, you can’t.  As the line from the movie goes, “anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is selling something.”  In this case, a book.  Or the author’s Thomism—or both.  Lucian well pointed this out in his mockery of the competing and mutually contradictory schools of haute philosophy in Antiquity.  Things have little changed since then.  Unsupported assertions and clever sleights of hand.  Because any honest attempt to follow the epistemological strand will result in a radical skepticism.  What you are looking for is the thing that looks.


Michael Wilson:
Of course the external world is knowable; we live our daily lives based that it is; we take for granted our house or family our street our very life; to deny our daily experience takes an effort and is ultimately futile.

Daniel:

--- Quote from: Michael Wilson on February 06, 2021, 10:36:26 AM ---Of course the external world is knowable; we live our daily lives based that it is; we take for granted our house or family our street our very life; to deny our daily experience takes an effort and is ultimately futile.

--- End quote ---

What about the alternative explanation: we live our lives as if an external world exists?

Experience is one thing, but knowledge is another.

I also don't mean to suggest that we should take the contrary position and positively deny our experiences or the reality of the external world. I'm just not seeing how such a belief can constitute "knowledge". If somebody really knows something to be true, it means he cannot be mistaken. How do we rule out the possibility of our being mistaken about the existence of an external world?

Philip G.:

--- Quote from: Daniel on February 06, 2021, 07:46:19 AM ---I started reading D. Q. McInerny's textbook Epistemology, and so far I have only made it through the first chapter, but there's something I don't understand. The author takes it for granted that the external world is both real and knowable. He more or less says that it's common sense and that you'd have to be insane to think otherwise.

But I'm not so sure. The external world's reality, I accept. But I'm not seeing how we know that it's knowable. This was one of the questions I was hoping the Epistemology book would answer, but it seems merely to assert it as true without even trying to give an answer. (This is assuming that he won't go into more depth later in the book.)

But I am wondering, is there some other science that must be mastered first, before one is able to study epistemology? What science is the one that answers the question as to the knowability of reality, in order that we may take its knowability for granted when we study epistemology? (The author did explicitly say that it's a bad idea to start with Epistemology, but none of the other sciences that he mentioned seem to have anything to do with this particular question. Unless it's covered in his Philosophical Psychology book or something. I have the whole six-volume set of books, and originally started with the first book (the one on the Philosophy of Nature), but I didn't get very far because of similar assertions he was making. He seems to assert many things without first establishing them. I don't like that. Makes the whole thing seem suspect and ungrounded. So I skipped to Epistemology hoping to find answers, but it didn't seem to work.)

--- End quote ---

Don't conflate "real" and "knowable".  I don't much like use of the word "real" anyways.  I think order is of importance in this discussion.  I think firstly, the external world is worthy of "belief".  Secondly, the external world is "knowable".  And, thirdly, the external world is real or "reality". 

Firstly regarding belief, what do the damned believe in?  Do the damned believe in even a patch of earth?  I say no, for if they did, they would either honor their mother who gave birth to them, and/or their mother/the church/ the corporal work of mercy that would see them buried in the ground upon their departure.  The damned do not believe in either of those.   Their skeleton worship is a manifestation of this is one way.  And, their tendency to have nick names is a manifestation of this in another way.

Secondly regarding knowledge, Judas was a bishop.  Judas knew Jesus.  Does Judas still know Jesus? 

Thirdly regarding the real or reality, "eye has not seen, ear has not heard".  Heaven is the reality that matters in the context of this discussion.  "The kingdom of heaven is among you". 

Those in the wrong will reverse the order of these. 

If you do not firstly accept that the external world is "reality", or "heaven on earth", you are crazy/mentally ill.  It is not an argument at all, it is a seemingly unforgivable attack on ones neighbor functioning to disqualify them from being considered an equal.

If you do not secondly accept that the external world is "knowable", you are disqualified from joining the club of those who "know" such.  A logical consequence of this would be consummation of marriage before the sanction of marriage.  If you do not believe that fornicators "know" one another, you can never "know" one another in marriage.  Notice how matrimony is the prime example in this regard.  "For in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be married, but shall e as the angels of god in heaven."

If you do not lastly accept that the external world is "believable", you are disqualified from a position of authority.  "The prince of this world cometh, and in me, he hath not a thing."  The devil neither knows God, nor desires the existence or reality of the ultimate objective truth, which is God.  The third here is a negation of the previous two.  That would only make sense for the father of lies.  Would it not?

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