The epistemological significance of John Locke on theological propositions

CHEN Li1,2

(1.School of Journalism and Communication, Wuhan University)
(2.Center for Studies of Media Development, Wuhan University)

【Abstract】John Locke was the first to formulate a new methodology on the rationality of faith, indicating that the rationality guides the faith. He advocated an epistemological principle of foundationalism, evidentialism, and deontological ethics, applied it on theism, and regulated the rationality of theological propositions from the perspective of epistemology. He regarded theological propositions as faith rather than knowledge because theological propositions lack the certainty of knowledge. Therefore, Locke divided theological propositions into three types including propositions according to, above and contrary to reason, and analyzed the rationality of each type. His epistemological thought, especially religious epistemology deeply affected western religious philosophy in the 18th century and beyond.

【Keywords】 epistemology; evidentialism; theological proposition; rationality; Locke;

【DOI】

【Funds】 The National Social Science Fund of China ( 13BZX059)

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    Footnote

    [1]. (1) John Locke, “Epistle to the Reader”, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, p. 7. [^Back]

    [2]. (2) Wolterstorf, N., 1994, Locke’s philosophy of religion. In V. Chappell (Ed.), Cambridge Companion to Locke. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 172. [^Back]

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    [6]. (6) Hobbes, a contemporary of Locke, affirmed sensation’s function in the recognition, but indicated sensation is the first step of recognition, acquiring knowledge is a mission of reason, and reason is nothing but reckoning, that is adding and subtracting, of the consequences of general names agreed upon for the marking and signifying of our thoughts. On this issue, Locke had a similar view with Hobbes. See [UK] Hobbes T. Leviathan. Li, S. & Li, Y. (trans.) Beijing: The Commercial Press, 4–6, 27–35, 61–62 (1985). [^Back]

    [7]. (7) Locke believed that reason could not recognize the real essence such as the real constitution and necessary relation of the entity, and could only obtain the nominal essence of the thing, that is, the word or name of the thing. [UK] Locke, J. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Guan, W. (trans.) Beijing: The Commercial Press, 631–635 (2012). [^Back]

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This Article

ISSN:1000-4289

CN: 11-1299/B

Vol , No. 01, Pages 142-150

February 2019

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Article Outline

Abstract

  • 1 Knowledge and faith
  • 2 Theological propositions and reason
  • 3 Evidentialism and criticism
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