Facts and Epistemology (Descartes) - RR101A1

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Facts and Epistemology (Descartes)
Course: Course - Epistemology
Subject: Subject:Philosophy
Lesson#: 1
Length: 0:58:28
TapeCode: RR101A1
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Epistemology.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


[Introducer] Let’s open with a word of prayer today. We thank Thee and praise Thee our Heavenly Father for this beautiful day that Thou hast given unto us in evidence of thy goodness to us and the revelation that’s all around us. We thank Thee for the guest who is with us today; we pray that Thou would give him the blessing of Thy Spirit that as he is here in our midst, we may learn much from him. That he may speak to us those things which are truth of Thy Word; that we may learn them and apply them to our own lives and to our own thinking. Bless us as we come to this hour and as we enter into this course of study during these next two weeks. We ask it in the name of Christ our Savior. Amen.

We’re delighted to have back on campus, and this is, um, from having been here before, Dr. Rousas J. Rushdoony, who is president of Chalcedon, as a society that is involved in Christian scholarly study and publications, and the number of these indicates to me they’ve published a number of works in addition to those of his own writings, but other writings dealing with, uh, thicker subjects that this society is interested in, and he may tell us more about this. Uh, I have just a flyleaf off of one of his books in which it indicates something of the things he himself has written. He has served as editor of Philosophical and Historical Studies in the International Library of Philosophy and Theology, and of the Historical Studies of the University Theories. And he has written a number of books: Intellectual Schizophrenia, The Nature of America’s System, This Independent Republic, Biblical Philosophy of History, By What Standard? (the work that we will be dealing with some in the Apologetic class), Freud, The Myth of Over-population, Bread On the Waters, Mythology of Science, The Foundations of Social Order, Messianic Character of Christian Education, Politics of Guilt and Pity, Thy Kingdom Come, and he indicates to me that he has several other names in the making right now. So we are delighted to have a man of this caliber with us, uh, and Dr. Rushdoony, I would suggest that you set forth for us the basic requirements of the course and then right just get right on into the work. We’re delighted to have you here, sir. [00:02:39]

[Rushdoony] There will be no examination but you will...[edit]

[Rushdoony] There will be no examination but you will be asked to write a paper perhaps of about ten pages on an area of epistemology. But since you first must know what epistemology is, we will discuss the possible areas of the paper in two or three days when we are a little further into the study. Our subject is epistemology. The theory of knowledge; how do we know; how is knowledge possible? This perhaps is as technical and abstract an area of philosophy as we could get into. And yet it is as urgently necessary to understand today as almost anything we could name. We cannot understand the crisis of the modern age and the breakdown of our civilization unless we understand something about epistemology. Now as I teach it, we shall be somewhat technical and abstract at points. But I am teaching it with this in mind; I don’t expect any of you to be professional philosophers. But I do feel it is necessary for you to understand this to be pastors and leaders of God’s people. When I was a student at the University of California, a fellow student who was a Roman Catholic told me once in a discussion that his church was doomed. And I asked him why, because certainly at that time the imposing power of the Church of Rome was certainly a very awe-inspiring one. He said, “We are intellectually bankrupt.” He said, “If I or any other student go to a priest, with very serious intellectual problems concerning our modern culture and the crisis of our times, what we will get from the priest is essentially a statement like this, ‘Son, forget about all those things, go to mass and confession faithfully. Say your Hail Mary’s and trust in God and leave that to the kooks.’” And he said, “We have no future when the clergy is that intellectually bankrupt. When it cannot answer the questions that arise in my mind as I grapple with the problems of our time.” Well he was quite prophetic. The church since then, the Catholic Church, has faced a crisis. There has been a breakdown. And the breakdown is among the laity as well as the clergy. [00:06:05]

My hope for this course is that well before the two...[edit]

My hope for this course is that well before the two weeks are over, you’ll begin to see through the maze and the fog that some of this rather amazing and fantastic abstract thinking about epistemology why it is that we’ve had student revolutionists take to the streets. Why it is that one of the most prominent philosophers, most influential existentialists of our time has essentially counseled a philosophy of suicide. Many of the students have committed suicide. And when he was asked why he had not, he said “It is true that I can see no reason for living. But then I can see no reason for dying either.” Now the problems that philosopher grappled with were the problems of epistemology. And if epistemology has led students in Europe, existentialist students, to commit suicide, and if the problems that are implicit in epistemology are leading to the suicide of a civilization today, it is important for us to know what it is about. I recall when I was a student studying modern philosophy someone asking me that question. One night when I was home, and I was reading to write I believe a paper on the epistemology of men from Descartes through Hume and Immanuel Kant. A young man who was a friend of mine and had only a high school education but was a hard-headed intelligent young man came over and he picked out some of the books I had spread out on the table, and he asked, “What’s all this stuff about?” So I proceeded to give him a survey of philosophy in about fifteen minutes from Decartes through Kant. [00:08:54]

Come right in, don’t be hesitant, is there someone...[edit]

Come right in, don’t be hesitant, is there someone out there? There’s a chair right here. I pointed out to him that modern philosophy got its start from Descartes; a French philosopher, Rene Descartes. And Descartes put philosophy on a new premise and his starting point was the autonomous independent mind of man. He did not begin with God; he did not begin with the world around him. He began with his own mind. And his starting point was, “I think, therefore I am,” “Cogito Ergo Sum.” And so he said the one fact I know is that I think, therefore I am. And so he said I will begin from myself as the one unquestionable, indubitable fact and from there build a body of knowledge so that I can understand the world around me and prove the existence of all things including God. And so Descartes said now the basic reality is myself. I exist; I think. My mind, which is here in my scull, receives sense impressions from the world so that I am continually bombarded by sensations or sense experience. The things out there strike my eye, or my touch, or my ear, or my nostrils, and the sense impressions are carried to my mind and I know the reality of these things. And so he proceeded to work out a philosophy of knowledge, a theory of knowledge which began with man. Now this is the starting point of the modern age. Man’s ultimate. Autonomous man. This is why in the modern age you have that abomination carried to the nth degree that existed previously as a result of the dawning humanism of scholasticism; the attempt to try to prove that God exists. You begin with yourself; I exist, I don’t know whether God does. You see, you put yourself in the place of God as ultimate. The one unquestionable fact in the universe. [00:12:17]

Now the next person who came along was Bishop Berkley...[edit]

Now the next person who came along was Bishop Berkley, or as it’s usually pronounced nowadays, Berkley. And Berkley said, indeed we have sense impressions, but of course my experience of that world out there is second hand. And he raised a very interesting question and a very telling one. He asked, “is there sound in a forest when a tree falls, and no one is there?” And of course the answer is no, there are sound waves. But it takes an ear to take those waves and make a sound. So that there is sound where there is an ear. And so he said, how do we really know that there is a material world out there? We have sense impressions; we have waves; sound waves, light waves. But do we really know that there is a material world out there? He said, all we know because our mind is locked up here to get second hand reports about the world is that there are orderly sense impressions that come to us. And so he said as between three things, I (as ultimate), the world, and God, we do not know that the world is a hard material thing, all we have are sense impressions of it, so there is no hard material world. There is only God and myself. And God sends out these sense impressions which strike my mind and are recorded in my mind that a hard material world is not altogether real. Now in a sense, Berkley was, uh, ahead of his time, because in recent years we have come to the belief, physicists tell us that there is no such thing as hard material matter as we know it. The more they get to analyzing matter, the more they say it is energy in motion. As a matter of fact, very recently von Weizsacker in Switzerland, now here’s a distinguished scientist, I quote, “The concept of the particle is itself just a description of a connection which exists between phenomena. And if I may jump from a very cautious and skilled language into strict metaphysical expression, I see no reason why what we call matter should not be spirit. If I put in terms of traditional metaphysics, matter is spirit.” In other words, modern physics is saying just what Berkley did, we don’t have a hard material world. We have sense impressions. It may feel hard material when I bump into it, but of course, even my bump is a standardized sense impression which ultimately comes from God. So, in Berkley’s theory of knowledge, the world became just a series of impressions, and there was the ultimate eye, and God provides the field of impressions. [00:16:43]

But, then along came David Hume...[edit]

But, then along came David Hume. And David Hume reduced philosophy even further in his doctrine of knowledge and its epistemology. He said, how do we know that there is a God out here. All we have is the mind. And we receive sense impressions. We have no way of knowing the thing itself, what is out there, because we are locked up inside our skull, our mind has no direct contact with reality; it only has it through sense impression. So I have no way of knowing that this is a real chair up here because my mind gets everything secondhand. Now this is logical. It’s thoroughly logical, granted the premise. And so he said, all we can say exists is the I; myself. Well, when David Hume came out with his theory in the eighteenth century, it threw all of Europe and all of the scientific community into a panic. Is knowledge possible? They could not find any flaws with Hume’s thinking. David Hume, sometimes also pronounced Hume in the Scottish fashion. And so they were desperate for some kind of answer; how can science be salvaged? The man who addressed himself this problem was Immanuel Kant, K-A-N-T. And Immanuel Kant said, true, we cannot know things in themselves, but to all practical intent the world around us is an aspect of myself. Now this is a startling thought, is it not? As Christians, we are used to thinking of ourselves as a part of the world. But Kant now says the world is a part of myself. The impressions of the world enter our mind and become a part of it. So that the external world as we know it is to a large degree a construct of our mind, and a part of it. We can never know things in themselves, Kant said. The world as we know it is at the very least relative to our mind and it is not a product of our mind. [00:20:06]

Now this is what I explained to this friend of mine...[edit]

Now this is what I explained to this friend of mine, who was visiting me when I was a student. And he thought for a long time about it, and dipped into this book and that by Descartes, Barth, Berkley, Hume, and Kant, then he said, “They’re crazy.” [Audience laughs] They’re crazy. He said, “I grant you it’s logical, it’s absolutely logical, it’s foolproof.” Or at least he felt it was. But he said, “Why would smart men like these characters spend all that effort working themselves into a blind alley like that?” It’s like working to get yourself into a bear trap. Now that was his reaction, and it was a very sensible one. Why indeed, why did men from Descartes to Kant pursue a line of reasoning that led to this impasse? An impasse, as we shall see in the days to come, that has become the crisis of the modern world. For the Christian who is thoroughly biblical in his thinking, this impasse is an impossibility. But the man who begins with an defective doctrine of thought, or the man who denies God and says that man is ultimate, inevitably has a problem. Now either God is the source of all possibility; he is the maker of heaven and earth and all things therein, and that there is nothing under the sun or beyond the sun except that which God created; predestined; totally governed; so that all things are knowable either in terms of God and His Word, or they are not knowable at all. Either that, or man is the source of all things and the source of all possibility and the source of all knowledge. Now, if God is the source of all knowledge and he has established the possibility of knowledge, then he has also established his validity. God has made me so that I live in a world of His creation where I can depend upon my senses, I can depend upon His word, I can depend upon things for valid knowledge. If I do not have that premise, if I begin, either as a defective Christian who refuses to believe that God has an absolute decree of predestination (and we’ll come to the significance of that for the doctrine of knowledge) or if I deny God entirely, how do we know that what we know is valid knowledge or that valid knowledge exists? [00:24:53]

Just a matter of days ago, I was at a secular campus...[edit]

Just a matter of days ago, I was at a secular campus and I was lecturing to a very large group of students with a great many professors present. And this one university professor who was listening was very much upset when I declared that the universe had an absolute rationality to it. Not that we have the mind to grasp it all, but I said it is absolutely rational because it was created by a rational God. So that we can understand the universe and we can have trustworthy knowledge concerning it because the absolute rationality; the mind of God, is behind all things. He was very upset by that. And he said, “No, most of reality is unknowable because it is irrational and meaningless. But,” he said, “there is a thin edge of rationality in the universe which makes some knowledge possible.” Now his was a very illogical position. We will analyze, later in the week, how totally impossible his position is. Because, if the universe is irrational, if it’s a product of chance, if there is no law, nor structure, nor order to it, than it is impossible to know anything about it. Thus, if a man is an atheist, if he denies God, he denies the possibility of knowledge. But then he would have to throw his hands up and say science is impossible, therefore the work in the laboratory is impossible, and some are saying that (we’ll come to that later in the week). Now the {?} view of a distinguished molecular biologist University of California Berkley, who feels we’re at the end of the road as far as science is concerned. We have reduced it to an impossibility intellectually. And he says that research is beginning to wan, because men are convinced knowledge is impossible. That brings us to the crisis of the time. {?} doesn’t think civilization has long to live. Now, if you deny that the universe is reasonable, how could you know it? The idea of the absurd, we shall come to later on, you’ve perhaps read, referenced this to it, and now wrote books have been written about the philosophy of the absurd. You have the avant-garde theatre, the philosophy of the absurd expounded. And its basic premise is that all things are meaningless. Knowledge is impossible, because there’s no law, no order, no structure in the universe. Now this is a desperate conclusion. Knowledge is important to man. To surrender the possibility of knowledge, to say it is impossible to man to know anything, is an abdication of life, past, present, and future. [00:28:12]

But the unregenerate thinker is anxious to command...[edit]

But the unregenerate thinker is anxious to command the world, play god, because the original sin of man is (the temptation was) ye shall be as God, knowing, that is determining for yourself, what constitutes good and evil. This is the basic sin, the original sin of man. And yet here is the unregenerate man who is playing god, saying I can know nothing, I am locked up in my skull and knowledge is impossible for me. Without knowledge, man is helpless. A man’s inability to cope with life is in ratio to his ignorance. While knowledge is not salvation, it is, as J. Gresham Machen reminded us, inseparable from it. You cannot separate knowledge from salvation, although you cannot identify knowledge and salvation. If a man were suddenly blinded, and at the moment of his blinding, all memory were wiped out of his mind, and then he were placed on a desert island with no knowledge of the past and no sight, he would be helpless indeed, would he not? Without our ability to know, and an assurance that we have some validity to what we know, we are helpless beyond our imagination. And this is the predicament of modern man. This is the predicament of modern man. Things have become meaningless, and they have become irrational. A very interesting book was written not too long ago within the last year or so by one of the greatest of the modern archaeologists, Geoffrey Bibby, B-I-B-B-Y. The title is Looking for Dilmun, D-I-L-M-U-N. Now, what was Dilmun? When scholars worked in ancient Egypt and in Sumer and Akkad and Ur of the Chaldees, they found references to a golden civilization of the past, long before Abraham’s day, the golden city, and the golden sea. Men were great traders and went to the far corners of the earth, trading with India and other places. Developed a great civilization. It was long believed that Dilmun represented a myth, some dream of a golden age. But Geoffrey Bibby spent years in Persian Gulf and Southern Arabia and in that general area, in excavations and work; hard difficult digs and very hot dry places, living in very great discomfort, and came up with one of the greatest archaeological finds of history. If it had happened a hundred years ago or even in the 1920’s, it would have been front page news. But our world has changed. He did find abundant evidence of the existence of Dilmun. Of its great wealth, of its trade with India. Resurrected the names of long forgotten traders and kings and fragments of their songs. Here was a modern scientist, reporting one of the greatest finds of archaeological history. And yet what does he say on the last page? He says, “What does it all mean, and what does it add up to? All long hot summers in the discomfort, to resurrect for a brief moment in a meaningless world, memories of men long dead and gone. And I to will be dead and gone and someday forgotten. What does it mean? What does it mean in a meaningless world?” [00:33:32]

An amazing statement coming from a man who has done...[edit]

An amazing statement coming from a man who has done a remarkable work, is it not? The next man won’t go and work like that, will he? You see, having been brought up in schools and in other tradition, as the old ways have begun to drop from Geoffrey Bibby. He does a great work, and like everything in life it becomes meaningless in the end; meaningless. What’s the use of knowledge in a meaningless world? And how can you know anything in a world that has no meaning? What does one thing add up to next to another? It is important to know that what we know is true and that it has relationship to a universe of meaning. Now when God created man, he gave to Adam two tasks which required the development of knowledge. He commanded man, first of all, to dress the garden and to keep it in Genesis 2:15. That is to till and to guard it. Man had to develop knowledge of horticulture of agronomy. He had to realize for example that though the animals of the garden were not fallen at that time, the trees and the vegetables still had to be protected from those animals. He had to fence his vegetables. He had to make sure that the cows didn’t bark the trees with their horns and kill them. So he had a task that required accumulating knowledge. Then second, God commanded Adam to name the animals. Now the significance of naming in the Bible is to classify. This is why, in the Bible, names often change; our Lord changed the names of some of the apostles we know. As he gave them a new life, a new character, and therefore a new name, and we are promised, are we not, that we shall have a new name. We don’t know what Abram’s original name was, we’re not told that, but when God called him out, he gave him a name; Abram, father of many. He classified him, in terms of a faith. I know it must have been a very difficult thing and an act of faith for Abram to take that name. He had no children. And you could not, in those days, carry a name that did not belong to you unless you were very powerful. We know that David named one of his sons by Abigail with a very fine, high-sounding name, but we are told the people called him another name which meant “dog”. In other words, they classified him. No doubt, when Abram left Ur of the Chaldees he first went to Canaan and he was met by some of the men there. Mind you, Abram was a powerful man, he {?} at one time there were, what was it, four-hundred fighting men, which meant he had perhaps eight-hundred old men and boys, also in his household, so he was something of a prince. And no doubt, when he introduced himself and people asked him his name and he said, “my name is Abram.” “Oh, how many sons do you have?” “None.” “How many daughters?” “None.” They must have snickered as they went away at the nerve of that man calling himself Abram. But you see, it was an act of faith in God’s promise. And even greater faith then to be called Abraham; father of a great multitude. Names are classifications. [00:38:40]

So when God told Adam, ...[edit]

So when God told Adam, “name the animals”, this was a task that undoubtedly took many, many years, decades perhaps. This is why I believe, that it was some time before (this is by the way, but) before Eve was given to Adam, he first had to prove himself as a man in charge of his calling under God. And then he was given a helpmeet. And so Adam had a scientific past. Knowledge, you see; practical knowledge in dressing, and tilling, and keeping the garden, and guarding it, theoretical knowledge, in terms of naming the life around him. Now, it did not occur to Adam that day to doubt the validity of the sense impressions. Or distrust whatever God said, he was too busy acquiring knowledge, and he was walking by faith in the word of God. But he didn’t say, “I think I see an elephant, but I don’t know whether my senses are trustworthy and there is an elephant out there.” No, he studied the animal life around him and classified it. But then the tempter came to Eve, and through Eve to Adam, and raised an epistemological question. “Yea, hath God said ye shall not eat of every tree in the garden.” Now, we’re going to come back again in a day or two to these epistemological questions, since they’ve been raised. “Yea, hath God said.” What the tempter said was, “You have assumed the validity of all your knowledge, because you have assumed the absolute trustworthiness of God. This is too great an assumption. Yours is an unjustifiable faith. Declare your independence of God. God is indeed very powerful, and He can do what He chooses much of the time, but this is not necessarily so.” I’m sure at that point Eve said, because we have a synopsis of their conversation here, that God said that of the day we eat thereof, die, we shall die. That is the process of death will begin in us. And the tempter said, “Ye shall not surely die. Oh yes, you may. God is very powerful, He can push you around, He’s the big bully of the universe. But it doesn’t mean that because God says something, it is necessarily so. God has no plan of predestination, He may want you to think so, but God like you is faced with a world that He is trying to manipulate. Now, He can say that such and such a thing will happen, but you can too. You can say, you can issue your own council, your decree of predestination, and say tomorrow I can pick beans or peaches. And you do it tomorrow. And you don’t always fulfill your word, but neither does God. You’re just trusting Him foolishly. You have no evidence that everything that God says will surely come to pass. Ye shall not surely die. God is trying to prevent you,” he said, “from developing your own decree of predestination; from taking the government upon your shoulders. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God (or as gods), knowing (that is determining for yourself) what is good and evil. You will determine for yourself what the facts are.” [00:43:35]

If God’s interpretation of good and evil is false,...[edit]

If God’s interpretation of good and evil is false, the same is true of all knowledge. Facts, instead of being God created, God determined, God interpreted, are simply facts which equally confront God and man. Both of whom are free to act on facts of the world around them and try to determine it. But the minute man declared his independence from God; he had a problem of knowledge. The world was no longer something trustworthy that God had created, and which according to the word of God had certain characteristics. Man in his autonomy and his declaration of independence from God had a problem of knowledge. Man now cannot accept anything God says about himself and about the world. In fact, he distrusts every bit of knowledge which points to God. Maybe, he says, God is only a wish fulfillment, a projection of myself onto reality. And so man says the ground must be clear of all myths and suppositions, so that I can face facts squarely and freely, and without any misconceptions or any predetermined pattern of thinking derived from Scripture. Science is knowledge, the modern man says, and man must approach the facts scientifically. But when he does, how can he know? Here is the problem. Descartes through Kant worked it out, and the result has been what has been called Solipsism, S-O-L-I-P-S-I-S-M, Solipsism; the chronic problem of the modern world. From Latin, solus; alone, and ipse; self. All you know is yourself. If you cannot trust your senses, it goes further than that as we shall see. And so, modern man does not know what he can know. And the fact is even further complicated because of man’s changing conception of himself. When man began this process, Descartes said, man is a pure thinking substance. But now, since Darwin, he sees himself as an animal, governed by animal drives. [00:47:07]

Let me quote what contemporary professor of philosophy...[edit]

Let me quote what contemporary professor of philosophy (not a Christian by any stretch of the imagination), Dr. Albert William Levi has said, and I quote, “The dominant critical problem of the twentieth century is to reconcile the role of the irrational in human conduct with a demand for reasoning, for reason and ordering of society. The central position of this problem in our age derives from the intellectual history of the last three centuries of the West. It is, I think, the inevitable consequence of the conflict of two ideas: one of the culmination of the intellectual climate of opinion of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the other the outgrowth of the science of the nineteenth. It represents the confusion which inevitably results when the picture of the human individual, implied in the philosophy of Rene Descartes, that is, man is pure mind, is confronted with a picture of the human individual, sketched in the biological science of Charles Darwin. When a picture of man, the universal mathematician, is set by side by side with the picture of man, the well trained animal, if an age takes both pictures seriously, as the twentieth century has, it can hardly escape schizophrenia. You see man’s predicament. He started out saying, we shall be as God, and he winds up saying, I’m an animal and I can know nothing. For modern man, the loss of faith in God has meant his own depreciation in his own eyes. He is no longer a creature made in the image of God, but an animal. This is why the avant-garde dramatists and writers; sordid, pornographic, degenerate; are the way they are. They are saying, this is all man is, something groveling in the dirt, incapable of more than filth. Max Frisch of avant-garde European dramatists says “Man cannot be free, or if he tries freedom he finds that freedom is not better than bondage.” Eugene Ionesco in his play The Chairs, 1952, held in that play that communication between human beings is impossible. He held that there is no solution to the problem of knowledge. There is no hope for man, he said, because there is no meaning to anything. “Life,” and I am quoting a scholar, Ionesco is saying, “is a hell in which each person imprisoned in his own separate sound-proof cubicle. Invisible and inaudible to everyone else. All so-called communication is illusory, the only person we really communicate with all the time is ourself.” Unquote. Do you begin to see why modern man talks about a communications gap? Why he talks about alienation? Why he talks about the desperate loneliness and the anguish and the anxiety of man? It’s because unbelieving man in this tradition is his own god, only he has devalued himself to an animal, trapped in his own mind, unable to communicate with anyone else. [00:52:01]

Jean-Paul Sartre ...[edit]

Jean-Paul Sartre (we will be deal more with Sartre in passing through the next two weeks) is perhaps one of the most brilliant, if perverse, of modern philosophers in existentialism. And Sartre said man is a being whose passion is to be god, but he says it’s a futile passion. And if I am god, who do you think you are? And what does he conclude? Now Sartre desperately wants a socialist world, he wants communication between man and man. But if I’m god and you say you’re god, that’s impossible. So he comes out with this anguished conclusion, “For me, my neighbor is the devil.” If I’m god, and you say I am god also, you have to be the devil. Is it any wonder that man cannot live with man? Is it any wonder, when man is at war with God in this radical fashion, he is at war with every other man and at war with himself. If you believe these things, and modern man does, then you are in a desperate predicament, and we are going to see in the days ahead how desperate that predicament is, and how the Christian alone can challenge modern man in his own ground and beat him back in terms of the word of God, in terms of the Reformed faith. And we have an obligation to do battle and to conquer, for in this fight, to win. [00:54:16]

Now we have a few moments, are there any questions...[edit]

Now we have a few moments, are there any questions about anything that we’ve covered thus far? Yes?

[Audience member] {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes, a good question. Why, if they say communication is impossible, have they made such a tremendous effort, and it has been a fanatical effort to get this message across? Well, it’s an act of desperation, this is man’s predicament, wake up everybody! You see, they’re intensely missionary-minded. And what they’re saying in television, movies, everywhere, wake up! Don’t you realize you’re an animal? You’re groveling in filth? You’re trapped in your own mind? You don’t know whether there’s a world out there or people out there, wake up! Maybe we can do something about it! But we know nothing can be done, you see. Now if we had a fraction of their zeal, what could we not do? And of course what I’m trying to do is get you to see the issues so you can begin to pin their ears back. Yes?

[Audience member] How do they know they know? {?}

[Rushdoony] They know that they don’t know, you see. In other words, knowledge comes to us through our sense impressions. We don’t know that our sense impressions are recording reality, because this problem came up in Chinese civilization and the Chinese gave up and they stagnated. They said, when I dream, I dream that I see rivers and mountains, and that I go through a river, and I make love to a woman, and then I wake up. And I find it was all in my head. How do I know that I will not wake up someday and find that all this that I think is a waking experience is a not a dream also? Well how do you know if you have no god? Because, we’re going to come to, what is a fact? And we’re going to see the predicament modern man has worked himself into, we’ll come to that in a couple days. Because it’s impossible to have any knowledge of any fact without God. The opposition sees this better than we do. Now, we are at the end of an age. As surely as Rome fell, and the Christian began to rebuild civilization, and as surely as the medieval era collapsed, and the Reformers rebuilt civilization, since the eighteenth century, we have been in a humanistic civilization which is now dying around us. And it’s up to {?} to be the fathers of a new era. Well, we’ll continue tomorrow. [00:57:52]

[Tape ends]