Paul Tillich Response to Modern Criticism

Topics: Empiricism, Immanuel Kant, David Hume Pages: 14 (4923 words) Published: October 25, 2012
The later part of 20th century witness a renewed question of empiricism in philosophy of religion. The question is concerned with what patterns a religious reasoning and religious language should take in determining the existence of God, the belief in God, the reality of a good God and the existence of evil. The approach is championed by logical positivism based on verification principles of ascertain meaning only by sense experience. The Modern Empiricism as discussed in this paper covers the period of tale end of 1500 AD to the end of 1800 AD, that is 16-19 century. This course explores the themes of Paul Tillich's philosophical theology, with special attention to his analysis of meaning and its apparent loss in modern society. The course will also evaluate Tillich's response to the problem of meaninglessness and his effort to interpret the Christian message. WHAT IS EMPIRICISM?

According to John Scott & Gordon Marshall, empiricism, in philosophy, is “the attitude that beliefs are to be accepted and acted upon only if they first have been confirmed by actual experience”. This broad definition accords with the derivation of the name from the Greek word empeiria, meaning “experience.” Primarily, and in its psychological application, the term signifies the theory that the phenomena of consciousness are simply the product of sensuous experience, i.e. of sensations variously associated and arranged (Andrew M. Colman: 2003:242). It is thus distinguished from Nativism or Innatism. Secondarily, and in its logical (epistemological) usage, it designates the theory that all human knowledge is derived exclusively from experience, the latter term meaning, either explicitly or implicitly, external sense-percepts and internal representations and inferences exclusive of any superorganic (immaterial) intellectual factor. Empiricism is thus opposed to the claims of authority, intuition, imaginative conjecture, and abstract, theoretical, or systematic reasoning as sources of reliable belief. Its most fundamental antithesis is with the latter (i.e., with Rationalism, also called intellectualism or apriorism). Forms of Empiricism

According to Catholic Encyclopedia empiricism appears in the history of philosophy in three principal forms: (1) Materialism, (2) Sensism, and (3) Positivism. a.Materialism: Materialism in its crudest shape was taught by the ancient atomists (Democritus, Leucippus, Epicurus, Lucretius), who, reducing the sum of all reality to atoms and motion, taught that experience, whereof they held knowledge to be constituted, is generated by images reflected from material objects through the sensory organs into the soul. The soul, a mere complexus of the finest atoms, perceives not the objects but their effluent images. With modern materialists (Helvetius, d'Holbach, Diderot, Feuerbach, Moleschott, Büchner, Vogt, etc.), knowledge is accounted for either by cerebral secretion or by motion. b.Sensism: All materialists are of course sensists. Though the converse is not the case, nevertheless, by denying any essential difference between sensations and ideas (intellectual states), sensism logically involves materialism. Sensism, which is found with Empedocles and Protagoras amongst the ancients, was given its first systematic form by Locke (d. 1704), though Bacon (d. 1626) and Hobbes (d. 1679) had prepared the data.

Locke derives all simple ideas from external experience (sensations), all compound ideas (modes, substances, relations) from internal experience (reflection). Substance and cause are simply associations of subjective phenomena; universal ideas are mere mental figments. Locke admits the existence, though he denies the demonstrability, in man of an immaterial and immortal principle, the soul.

Berkeley (d. 1753), accepting the teaching of Locke that ideas are only transfigured sensations, subjectivizes not only the sensible or secondary qualities of matter as his predecessor had done, but also the...
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