PAPER NO. 19
FOUNDATION FOR PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY
Meaning and Worldview
- Human beings as thinking beings seek to make sense of their world through forming a worldview.
- Presuppositions are the basic beliefs we use to interpret our experience.
- No experience is meaningful without interpretation.
- Experiences are interpreted differently in varying worldviews.
- A worldview must be internally coherent in order to retain meaning.
- There are two alternative basic beliefs in each foundational feature of a worldview: in epistemology, in metaphysics and in ethics.
- These basic beliefs are contradictories, not contraries; both cannot be true and both cannot be false; one must be true and the other false.
- In epistemology: either knowledge is possible or knowledge is not possible.
If knowledge is possible, then in principle: some things are clear; the basic things are clear; the basic things (about God and man and good and evil) are clear to reason.
If knowledge of basic things is not possible, then either skepticism or fideism results, both of which lead to nihilism (the loss of all meaning).
- In metaphysics: either all is eternal in some form or other, or only some is eternal.
If all is eternal, then either matter or spirit or both or neither (i.e., nothing) is eternal.
If only some is eternal, then what is eternal brought into existence (created) what is not eternal.
- In ethics: either there is rational justification for the good (the moral absolute) or there is no such justification.
The good is grounded in human nature, which is determined by what is eternal.
If what is eternal cannot be known, then human nature cannot be known and there can be no rational justification for the good.
Consciousness and Consistency
- Human beings are more or less conscious and consistent in holding their basic beliefs.
- There is an admixture of contradictory beliefs in each person.
- One of the contradictory beliefs is existentially more basic and therefore more prevailing in each person.
- One’s consciousness and consistency depend on one’s presupposition, personality, background and mood.
- We should seek to be more conscious and consistent.
History and Conflict
- History is the outworking of these conflicting beliefs in each person, in each culture and in world history.
- Suffering of toil and strife, and old age, sickness and death (and collectively, of war, famine and plague) challenges each person to make greater sense of the world.
- The conflict is between understanding and misunderstanding, between belief and unbelief.
- The conflict is between the use of reason (to act according to one’s nature) and lack of the use of reason (to neglect, avoid, resist or deny reason regarding what is clear).
- The conflict is between meaningfulness and meaninglessness, between life and death, between good and evil.
Reason and Hope
- In the conflict between contradictory beliefs, only what is meaningful will last.
- Every form and degree of admixture between belief and unbelief will come to expression in culture in world history.
- The darkness of misunderstanding cannot overcome or withstand the demands of the light of reason in human nature.
- Evil serves only to deepen the revelation of the nature of things.
- In the spiritual war, which is age-long and agonizing, good will overcome evil.