Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Philosophical Foundations

: an overview of the first unit

There are two units in this program, plus a thesis. This first unit lasts about 8 weeks, til the end of October, and is broken up into 24 sessions. There are six general themes, and each is discussed in terms of various dominant contemporary philosophies (styled “post/modern” for convenience) and in terms of the reformational (neocalvinist) alternative.

The six themes are:
+ worldviews and philosophies
+ diversity and coherence in reality
+ reality and knowing
+ modern society
+ time and history
+ faith and reason

Of course, the reformational philosophy is taken primarily from Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven, but we are also reading non-reformational Christian thinkers such as Plantinga, Wolterstorff, and Milbank. Some of the post/modern thinkers we are reading include Descartes, Hobbes, Kant, Weber, James, Nagel, Rorty, Armstrong, Taylor, and Fukuyama. These thinkers represent mostly dualist or objectivist-realist or pragmatist-antirealist perspectives.

There’s surprisingly little from (non-pragmatist) subjectivist-antirealists —the sort of view I tend to associate more with postmodernism; primarily French thinkers. I’m tempted to think that this has something to do with the Dutch’s bald distaste for the French. But apparently, the reason is that such philosophy, along with existentialism, is widely perceived to be dead in Europe. A victim of suicide, I gather. In any case, Milbank, for instance, is fairly conversant with these thinkers, and the rest can hardly avoid discussing Nietzsche or Heidegger at various points.

All told, now in the third week already, the work has been quite enjoyable and stimulating and continues to look promising. In future posts I intend to draw from my class notes and deal mostly with the reformational alternative. I’ll do my best to make it entertaining.