Postmodernity and the Crisis of Truth

Anthony Thiselton links Postmodernity to the crisis of truth. To this one would naturally ask the question, “Why a crisis of truth�?? Is the linkage a matter or causality, that is, to suggest that Postmodernity is the cause of the crisis, or is the linkage merely descriptive? In the latter case, Postmodernity would be a description of a general condition of society where people in general and intellectuals in particular have lost confidence in attaining consensus regarding matters of truth.

What are the contours of the contemporary crisis of truth? One cannot help but be struck by the proliferation of theories spinning across the various disciplines of Western academia. Such proliferation is accompanied by intense disputes with no obvious winner. There is no evidence that the competing theories will be subsumed under an overarching, unifying framework. The resulting fragmentation of knowledge leads to doubts about the viability of the academic enterprise in securing certain or indubitable knowledge

A few years ago, I was asked to respond to a paper written by Anthony Thiselton at a conference on postmodernity. Thiselton subsequently published his paper, but it doesn’t seem like there is any chance that my paper will be published. I might as well share it with my readers and friends before the topic (or at least what I wrote) becomes irredeemably out of date:

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POSTMODERNITY AND THE CRISIS OF TRUTH
A Response to Anthony Thiselton
POSTMODERNITY ON LOCAL TERMS
Anthony Thiselton’s paper has an obvious polemical thrust. As such, it is easier to determine what Thiselton rejects rather than what he affirms concerning the matters of theory of truth. He mounts a strong critique of the pragmatic version of Postmodernity exemplified by Richard Rorty. In this regard, I share much in common with Thiselton. As such, it would be more useful for me to attempt a critical appropriation rather than a critique of his paper. By critical appropriation I mean the need to identify and analyze the dynamics of Postmodernity. By appropriation I mean my intention to relocate the discussion of Thiselton’s paper from an evidently Western context to an Asian one. Continue reading “Postmodernity and the Crisis of Truth”

Limits to Logical Analysis in Doctrinal Debates

Only a handful of critics go beyond merely asserting the charge of incoherence of the Trinity and provide logical arguments to support their claim of incoherence. . . In any case, the task of logical demonstration is not so straightforward. Note that we assume that the propositions are clear and unambiguous. For example, we assume that the particular statement P or Q adequately and accurately and precisely represents essential aspects of God. But the fact is, we do not have any clear account of human nature that has gained consensus, let alone an account of divine nature. In reality, propositions P and Q are read differently (though implicitly) by different protagonists in logical debates.

Only a handful of critics go beyond merely asserting the charge of incoherence of the Trinity and provide logical arguments to support their claim of incoherence.

In general, a logical demonstration of incoherence may include the following steps: Given propositions P and Q, one may demonstrate a contradiction between these two propositions by positing another proposition R (which is presumably true) such that Q and R taken together will lead to a fresh proposition S which clearly contradicts P. Conversely, one may claim that P and Q are coherent if S is evidently coherent with P. For examples of such an exercise, I refer to my earlier articles

In any case, the task of logical demonstration is not so straightforward. Note that we assume that the propositions are clear and unambiguous. For example, we assume that the particular statement P or Q adequately and accurately and precisely represents essential aspects of God. But the fact is, we do not have any clear account of human nature that has gained consensus, let alone an account of divine nature. In reality, propositions P and Q are read differently (though implicitly) by different protagonists in logical debates. Continue reading “Limits to Logical Analysis in Doctrinal Debates”