Archive for the ‘Enlightenment’ Category

It is obvious to the whole world that a service is better than an injury, that gentleness is preferable to ange

September 24, 2009

It is obvious to the whole world that a service is better than an injury, that gentleness is preferable to anger. It only remains, therefore, to use our reason to discern the shades of goodness and badness.

Voltaire, in his Philosophical Dictionary (vol.6, 327), in, Voltaire’s Bastards, John Ralston Saul, p.31

It seems obvious to many that ‘gentleness is preferable to anger’ but it is less obvious that ‘reason’ makes us cognisent of this. It isn’t clear, for example, that reason places others before self, or even that it should. ‘Which Rationality?’ to quote Alasdair MacIntyre’s book title.

The sense of morality is because humans bear the image of a Moral Being to whom they are ultimately accountable. This Being, revealed in Scripture has stamped man with his image and a conscience that now accuses and now defends man’s own actions. The Enlightenment project failed to deliver the freedom and tolerance men like Voltaire hoped for.

I cannot forgive Descartes

September 16, 2009

I cannot forgive Descartes. In all his philosophy he would have been quite willing to dispense with God. But he had to make Him give a fillip to set the world in motion; beyond this, he has no further need of God.

 Blaise Pascal

Knowledge Requires an Omniscient Knower

September 3, 2009

…there must be comprehensive knowledge somewhere if there is to be any true knowledge anywhere but this comprehensive knowledge need not and cannot be in us; it must be in God.

Cornelius Van Til, Defense of the Faith, P&R, 1967, p.41

The faith of the Enlightenment

August 28, 2009

The essential articles of the religion of the Enlightenment may be stated thus: (1) man is not natively depraved; (2) the end of life is life itself, the good life on earth instead of the beatific life after death; (3) man is capable, guided solely by the light of reason and experience, of perfecting the good life on earth; and (4) the first and essential condition of the good life on earth is the freeing of men’s minds from the bonds of ignorance and superstition, and of their bodies from the arbitrary oppression of the constituted social authorities. With this creed the “constant and universal principles of human nature,” which Hume tells us are to be discovered by a study of history, must be in accord, and “man in general” must be a creature who would conveniently illustrate these principles. What these “universal principles” were the Philosophers, therefore, understood before they went in search of them, and with “man in general” they were well acquainted, having created him in their own image. They knew instinctively that “man in general” is natively good, easily enlightened, disposed to follow reason and common sense; generous and humane and tolerant, more easily led by persuasion than compelled by force; above all a good citizen and a man of virtue, being well aware that, since the rights claimed by himself are only the natural and imprescriptible rights of all men, it is necessary for him voluntarily to assume the obligations and to submit to the restraints imposed by a just government for the commonweal.