Corralitve Opposites: Absolutism and Perspectivalism

Links Jul 08, 2009

My dear brother and long-time family friend, Chris Taylor (who’s opinions and insights and I highly value), recently posted on perspectivalism as it relates to theology and doctrines in particular. This is very interesting if we look at in light of our discussion of the necessity to equally emphasize correlative opposites.

I am very excited about this. I haven’t had the time to read Frame’s article that Mr. Taylor quotes quite extensively, but on perusal, I think Dr. Frame and I are thinking quite similarly. Throughout last year, I was arguing that the existence of perspective requires an objective existence. Dr. Frame writes,

This does not mean, of course, that all ideas are equally true, or equally false. It does not mean that as our perspective grows larger we inevitably agree with everybody else. I do think that often a broadening of perspective usually leads to a greater appreciation of the viewpoints of others. But sometimes a growth in perspective has the opposite effect: it convinces us that the view we are investigating is simply wrong. There is nothing about perspectivalism that eliminates the distinctions between right and wrong, true and false. So perspectivalism is not relativistic, as sometimes charged.

Rather, it presupposes absolutism. To say that our own views are finite is to contrast them with the absolute, infinite viewpoint of God himself. And we are able to consult God and, through his word and prayer, in some measure to access his infinite perspective. I say “in some measure.” We will never have God’s exhaustive knowledge of reality (in my judgment, not even in heaven). And we will never know the world in the same way God knows it, for to do that we would have to be God. But when God speaks to us in Scripture and grants us wisdom in response to prayer, the human knowledge we obtain is warranted by his own exhaustive perspective, the perspective that includes all other perspectives. For example, Scripture tells me that God created the heavens and the earth. That knowledge can never be invalidated by any other perspective. It is true from any possible perspective

I love this. But when looking at perspectivalism and objectivism, I posit that we’re discussing two correlative opposites*, which means if we heavily lean on one topic or the other, we’re doing a disservice –especially to laypeople.

I’ll get back to you all when I’ve developed a more thorough understanding of this conversation. I’m also planning a comment on Mr. Taylor’s post. I’ll link to that when/if it’s posted. Stay tuned.

*NOTE: I found myself in a quandary over this because while a perspective, in order to exist, requires an object, an object doesn’t require a perspective. So in order for this to be a correlative opposite, I’m assuming that it’s an epistemological, not ontological, discussion.

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