Original Research

Of light and limits: Philosophy matters

M.E. Botha
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 36, No 2 | a505 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v36i2.505 | © 2002 M.E. Botha | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 August 2002 | Published: 06 August 2002

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M.E. Botha, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Potchefstroom University for CHE, South Africa

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Abstract

The deepest religious or faith commitments of a scholar enter into her theoretical work through the mediation of a (scientific) world view with its embedded philosophical assumptions about the subject matter. These philosophical assumptions are about the fundamental structure (order) of the world and imply assumptions about the nature of this order or structure. They are often embedded in theoretical notions that purport not to require any further grounding. As such they are thoroughly “religious”. Metaphorical language and models often mediate these religious convictions. Christian scholarship implies critically weighing and assessing such assumptions and exposing their ideological or mythical nature.

The pivotal issue at the centre of the historical “turns” in philosophy of science appears to be diverse articulations of this locus of order. It is this perennial search for the elusive universal that surfaces in each of the “turns” in either philosophy or science which “turns” up with monotonous regularity in subject-related literature. All these “turns” seem to be bound in their point of departure to an epistemological position which could best still be described as that of modernity, i.e., anchored in the Enlightenment ideal of the subject-object divide and the belief that objective rational knowledge can be acquired, yet attempting to approach this rational objective knowledge via the medium of the knowing subject. This perennial search for the elusive universal reaches a dead-end in post-modernism. If Christian philosophy wants to shed light on this issue so central to the heart of theorizing, it needs to develop a dynamic understanding of the notion of law, order, limits and boundaries and the way such an understanding could inform the discussions concerning scientific realism and the end(s) of philosophy.

Keywords

Christian Philosophy; Religious Neutrality; Scholarship

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