Monday, August 08, 2011

Turth unconditioned and trancendnet


As I stated previously:
The awareness of the norm of truth is the awareness of something transcendent and unconditioned, beyond the dichotomy of subject/object. This transcendent unconditioned is beyond both subjectivity and objectivity. But subject and object participate in the unconditioned, and it is a transcendent unity that makes possible all concrete affirmation, denial, down and uncertainty in the process of knowing. It is being itself appearing in the theoretical function as that which transcends subject and object. The norm of truth is not limited to subjectivity because it is used to judge the correspondence with objects. Since the subject bears it, it is not merely objective. It is not an object at all in the sense of being anything with which the subject can have a synthesis.

The subject cannot condition the norm of truth, but is conditioned by it. The subject can deny or debate or doubt any particular truth but cannot deny either her own capacity to apply a norm of truth itself. Nor can the subject down the concept of truth. The certainty about the norm of truth is different from any other contents of knowledge. The norm is grounded in necessary truth. One could not challenge the concept of truth except in terms of the untruth of truth, which implies a truth; the notion of truth, to be meaningful, but also contain the assumption that it’s opposite is untrue, and vice versa.[vi]

As supplementary arguments Tillich asserts that the quest to know drives the seeker on toward an end goal of total knowing. The unconditioned nature of the norm of truth is implicit in all knowing and in the desire to know.

Let’s try to summarize what this argument is really saying by isolating and enumerating it’s most basic and necessary points. This is not an attempt at a formal presentation of logic, but merely a way of summarizing, a thumbnail sketch.

Remember from chapter 4 that Tillich identified God with truth based upon God’s eternally necessary nature and the eternal and transcendent nature of the Platonic forms and God’s self revelation in Exodus 3:

This is an exchange with spacemonkey on the Tillich implied OA

Originally Posted by Spacemonkey View Post

Space Monkey
Yes, I'm explicitly endorsing a correspondence theory of truth. But I'm also pointing out that this doesn't commit me to anything beyond that. Objective reality =/= God (unless you want to trivialize "God").

I realize there is more to it than just correspondence theory = God. I never tried to pass if off as that simple. Yet since you do accept the basis of my concept of truth they can't argue as some have tried that the connection is a priori invalid that that point.

You are not dealing with the other assumptions that are made. you act this is the whole battle. If you don't buy that simple connection the argument is disproved, and that's just bunk.

Space Monkey
I certainly have answered that. You're the one who decided to start a new thread without addressing my previous replies. Reducing and trivializing "transcendence" in this way means that you cannot equate the outcome with God/being-itself (because objective reality =/= ground-of-being), without thereby also trivializing "God" to mean nothing more than "the universe" (which is the only needed ground of truth). I explained this all before. YOU didn't address it.
here we see your usual MO. you assert dogmatically that I have "reduced" transcendence to a "trivial" part because you are not aware of the nature of 20th century theology and you don't know what theologian say about transcendence today. What you call "trivialized" is merely the modern view. Moreover, I suspect all you have to compare it to is the atheist straw man which never the Christian view anyway.

Space Monkey
Again, my point concerning objective reality is ontological, not epistemological. These comments aren't even relevant.

bunk and bosh. you can't remove the importance of epistemology just saying your concerns are not epistemic, mine are. My argument is so and that makes it so.

Space Monkey
I am positing an objective reality other than god as the ontological ground of truth, but I don't need to claim anyone has anything more than a subjective access to that truth. I'm not abandoning philosophy, so kindly refrain from such absurd accusations.
that's fine but you have to show how it makes sense to say that in light of the unconditioned nature of truth. you might have a point if were talking about a big man on throne up in the sky. Owing to the fact we are talking about the nature of being, eternal necessary primordial being, you have to demonstrate that it makes sense to talk about an ontological ground of truth apart form the unconditioned.

Space Monkey
Again, I'm not claiming that we are objective in addition to reality, that we don't need to use philosophy, or that objective reality as a concept isn't something we need to construct. All of this is wholly irrelevant to my point.

your colleagues don't' think so. Or should I say "comrades?" DA?

Space Monkey
Do you really not understand what I've been saying? Or is it just that you realize you're unable to address it?

I don't think you understand what I said. I also think the old"If you disagree with me you must be too stupid to understand me" Is beneath you. that's a dishonest approach. why can't you just deal honestly with my ideas?

Space Monkey
Because my point is a very simple one: We can account for truth simply as a correspondence grounded in an objective reality, and we can do so without elevating the latter concept in any way that would justify equating it with God in any sense other than that which would trivialize our conception of God by equating it with the natural universe.
Of course I would assume that. That would be the normal thing to think if one didn't understand Tillich. Tillich is uncovering a door to a forgeten knowledge. no one reads these Platonic guys now. Tillich put them in the 20th century and translated their ideas into modern phenomenology.

Once you understand the basis of the forgotten stuff the obvious nature of modern assumptions don't' seem so impregnable anymore. If you understand the forgotten stuff it just looks like someone who isn't up to date on modern thinking.

We can account for truth simply as a correspondence grounded in an objective reality

we can do than all that many unconditioned's floating about. To do your modern ontological razor job on truth you have to reduce to a point where it's not true anymore; realities it localize it, render it harmless and limited.

If it's unconditioned then it's transcendent. you can tried to deride and degrade the modern concept of transcendence but there's more to than than you are admitting.

The Tillich OA is deduced by Duane Olson, from an article in the Quodlibet Journal. Here is his take from that article on the nature of truth as implied by Tillich. The point is that he shows that you can't deny truth in the name of truth. He takes truth to be consistent with the correspondence theory of truth. To assert for it a naturasiltic grounding without the eternal necessary aspect of reality (ie God) is to assert a realitivised version of truth.


Tillich works with the classical conception of knowledge or truth as correspondence between subject and object.[xvi] Knowledge consists of the subject making a correct judgment about reality, or more fully, making a correct judgment of the correspondence between subject and object, given the synthesis between them. The focus of Tillich’s main argument is not on concrete judgments, or any truths in any field of knowledge, but on the fact that the subject has the capacity to make judgments about reality. This capacity involves applying a correspondence-norm, or a norm of truth, to a concrete subject-object interaction.

The indubitability of the norm of truth is shown by a reductio argument regarding the process of knowing. In different places and in different ways Tillich points out that denial and doubt in knowing presuppose the norm of truth.[xvii] I want to systematize Tillich’s reductio argument at this point to show that all major theoretical postures presuppose this norm.

We can imagine four major postures taken by a subject to any theoretical judgment. One could affirm the judgment, claiming it corresponds with reality; one could deny the judgment, claiming it does not correspond; one could doubt, question, and debate the judgment; or one could claim a decision cannot be made about the judgment. All of the options presuppose the subject’s ability to apply a correspondence-norm, or norm of truth. Certainly one must apply a norm to affirm a judgment. One must also apply a norm, however, to deny a judgment. Any negative judgment presupposes and lives from the positive bearing of a norm of truth by the subject. One cannot deny that a judgment corresponds to reality without presupposing the subject’s ability to make judgments about reality. Doubting, questioning, or debating a judgment presuppose a norm of truth as well. One could not debate the veracity of a judgment without presupposing the capacity in the debaters to determine that veracity. Doubting or questioning a judgment is only meaningful under the presupposition of a norm that gives validity to that questioning and doubting. Finally, the claim that one cannot know whether a judgment is true presupposes the bearing of a norm to determine how or why a decision cannot be made.

It is important to note that the argument for a correspondence-norm, or norm of truth, is on a different level than arguments about the specific nature of the correspondence between subject and object. The correspondence itself may be conceived in terms of naïve realism, idealism, or a multitude of positions in between. Every theory about the nature of the correspondence, however, relies on the presupposition of a correspondence-norm that would make it possible to formulate, and affirm, deny, debate, or declare uncertain that theory. Put differently, the theory of the specific nature of the correspondence between subject and object is another field of knowledge that is subject to the ultimate criterion of knowledge, which is what is disclosed in the idea of a correspondence-norm.

To claim that the capacity to apply a norm is indubitable is the same thing as saying the subject bears an indubitable awareness of truth. In other words, when one analyzes the major postures toward judgments and shows how a norm of truth is presupposed as something borne by the subject in every posture, one is pointing out an awareness of truth the subject has, though it is something the subject may overlook, especially in doubting or denying particular truths. Through the reductio argument, one focuses attention on the fact that the subject bears a norm of truth, thus raising it to conscious awareness. I speak more below about the character of this awareness, but for now I simply affirm something Tillich presupposes, which is the identity between the affirmation that the subject bears a norm of truth and the subject’s awareness of this norm.

As Tillich shows, the awareness of the norm of truth is the awareness of something unconditioned that transcends the distinction between subject and object. It is, as he puts it, “the identity of subject and object,”[xviii] or that which “transcends subject and object,”[xix] or “something beyond subjectivity and objectivity.”[xx] It is a transcending unity in which both subject and object participate and which makes possible all concrete affirmation, denial, doubt, and uncertainty in the knowing process. It is being-itself appearing in the theoretical function as that which is beyond subjectivity and objectivity, but that in which they both participate, and which makes possible the judgments in that process.

The norm of truth cannot be merely subjective, because the subject uses it to affirm, negate, debate, or declare uncertain the correspondence with objects. To make possible these judgments about reality, it must be beyond mere subjectivity. Since the subject bears it, it is, of course, not merely objective. In fact, it is not an object at all in the sense of something the subject can have a synthesis with. It is that by which the subject is able to judge all possible objects of synthesis, or all possible contents of knowledge. Because it is that which makes it possible to judge the correspondence in the difference between subject and object, it must be an identity between subject and object, or a unity in which they share. It could be called a transcending identity, or a grounding identity, depending on whether one wants to use height or depth metaphors in the description. Something that transcends the difference between subject and object, but is not another object, appears in knowing and enables the determination of correspondence despite difference.

The subject cannot condition or determine the norm of truth. In fact, the relationship runs in the reverse direction. The subject is conditioned and determined by this norm, as evidenced by the fact that the use or application of the norm is indubitable. The subject can doubt, negate, debate, or declare uncertain the veracity of any concrete truths, but it cannot deny its own capacity to apply a norm of truth.

Since the bearing of the norm is indubitable, it is a necessary thought. Tillich claims there is “unconditional certainty” about it.[xxi] The certainty about this norm is different from the certainty about any content of knowledge, which can always be doubted. In fact, affirming the norm involves a paradox, since it is the affirmation of the first principle of knowledge. Claiming it is true that the subject bears the norm presupposes already the validity of the norm.[xxii] This means the truth of the norm and the certainty attached to it is not like the truth or certainty of any other contents of knowledge. What is affirmed is a grounding truth and grounding certainty. While Tillich does not use these terms, perhaps it is best to describe the affirmation of the norm as an assent or an opening of the subject to the presence of the norm. The subject takes note of and acknowledges the ground by which it is conditioned. At the same time, however, what the subject is opening to presents itself as a necessary thought that cannot be denied.

The two supplementary arguments Tillich gives focus respectively on the presence of the unconditioned in the subjective and objective side of knowing. Regarding the subjective side, Tillich claims numerous times in his work that the unconditioned appears as a “demand” for knowledge or for truth.[xxiii] The quest to know has an unconditional quality that drives the subject beyond every tentative grasp of reality and determines the scientific process. The subject is conditioned by the norm, rather than conditioning it. Part of that conditioning is not only that the subject bears and must apply a norm, but involves the bearing of a demand ultimately to break beyond any tentative grasp of reality to a full or complete one.

The objective side involves the grasp of the unconditioned in and through the contents in every field of knowledge. Tillich speaks of the “depth of reason,” or the presence of the unconditioned in the knowing process that he describes as “pointing to… the infinite power of being and of the ultimately real through the relative truths in every field of knowledge.”[xxiv] Here, positive correspondences in the knowing process function as symbols for that which transcends them and breaks through them. The norm that makes it possible to determine correspondence transcends, but remains present in the actual correspondences that make up the various fields of knowledge. This presence is not absolute, or there would be no criticism, and we have already seen that the norm bears the capacity to negate, doubt, and question.

With this full description, Tillich points to the presence of the unconditioned not only in isolated theoretical acts, as in the main argument, but in the knowing process as a whole. It is present as presence (the ultimately real in relative truths), and as demand (the inexhaustible drive for a complete unity of truth), in the totality of the knowing process.

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