Russell and Duenes

Greg Bahnsen: Circularity is Unavoidable

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I’ve been saying that any theory about knowledge (epistemology) and how one can claim to have knowledge begins and ends with the reality of God and the Scriptures. The response to this is often to argue that such a claim amounts to circular logic. Here, the superb and deceased Greg Bahnsen, gives his brief take on the matter.

“The practical question arises: where do all philosophical justifications come to an end? Every system must have some unproven assumptions, a starting point not antecedently established, with which reasoning begins and according to which it proceeds to conclusions. Therefore, all argumentation over ultimate issues of truth and reality will come down to an appeal to authorities which, in the nature of the case, are ultimate authorities. Circularity at this level of argumentation is unavoidable. If the alleged authority is not taken to be authoritative in itself, but justification is offered for that authority, then this is not really the ultimate authority after all – rather, those justifying considerations are the final authority. When that ultimate authority is challenged, the argument must necessarily become circular, for nothing is ‘more authoritative’ or carries greater warranting power than the ‘ultimate’ authority. The unbeliever, as much as the believer, has a final authority to which he appeals in order to defend the world-view that embraces his interdependent metaphysic and epistemology.” [Emphasis mine] (Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended, The American Vision, 2009)



Written by Michael Duenes

August 11, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Posted in Duenes, Philosophy, Theology

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