Friday, January 20, 2017

Reading #28: Popkin: Reformed Epistemology

From Richard Popkin, "History of Skepticism: From Erasmus to Descartes," Harper, 1964.

The fundamental evidence for the original Calvinists of the truth of their views was inner persuasion. But how can one tell that this inner persuasion is authentic, not just a subjective certainty which might easily be illusory? The importance of being right is so great that, as Theodore Beza, Calvin's aide-de-camp insisted, we need a sure and infallible sign. The sign is "full persuasion [which] doth separate the chosen children of God from the castaways, and is the proper riches of the Saints."  But the consequence is a circle: the criterion of religious knowledge is inner persuasion, the guarantee of the authenticity of inner persuasion is that it is caused by God, and this we are assured of by my own inner persuasion.  Pg 9

1.  Why is certainty important?
2.  What is an infallible sign?
3.  What is the difference between objective and subjective certainty?
4.  What is the circle that Popkin identifies in appealing to inner religious signs?
5.  How can this be applied to contemporary Reformed Epistemology?
6.  What is the distinction between epistemology and soteriology?
7.  Do other forms of epistemological externalism face a similar circle to the one Popkin identifies?