Posts tagged ‘Christian philosophy’

October 31st, 2014

10 Things That Annoy Philosophers

by Max Andrews

If you want to get under the skin of a philosopher there are a few ways to irk us. There’s more that just the annoyance of telling someone you’re a philosopher and they respond, “Oh, I took a psychology course in university!” Yes, that type of misunderstanding warrants the philosopher’s incredulous stare… just as these will:

10. “So, how will you make money? What do you do?”

Okay, so I’m not an engineer. I’m not a research chemist for a Fortune 500 corporation and I may not be able to work most blue collar tasks… However, I, and other philosophers, think (but there’s more!). For the philosopher, the act of philosophizing is not a mere intellectual exercise that could exist solely in consciousness. To the contrary, philosophy is a procedure and inquiry to the self, a “discovery and self-liberation.” The intellectual and cognitive acts of philosophy are participatory in their inquiry of the world. This would be very similar to the understanding that Socrates is the philosopher. He not only taught and philosophized, but he understood that the very act of philosophizing was an act of engagement with the world and it was a way of life.

9. The university administration putting philosophy in the periphery

Philosophy departments aren’t typically the big money-makers at university–typically. However, the university system needs to understand that the philosophy faculty, the philosophy students, and the discipline of philosophy in general is an investment rather than a moneymaker. I’ve seen firsthand that a university can divest in the philosophy department. Academia, the provost, the administrators, et al, need to view philosophy as the foundation by which a university is built and sustained.

July 10th, 2012

“See to it that No One Takes You Captive through Philosophy”

by Max Andrews

What ought Christians do with philosophy?  Isn’t this contrary to theology and explicitly warned of in the Bible? This is particularly poignant in the letter to the Colossians 2.8.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementry principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

βλεπετε μη τις υμας εσται ο συλαγωγων δια της φιλοσοφιας και κενης απατης κατα την παραδοσιν των ανθρωπων κατα τα στοιχεια του κοσμου και ου κατα χριστον

Now, of course, for a better and full exegesis be sure to grasp the whole context of the letter.  Paul is warning the Christians in Colossae of philosophy and being distracted by and importing inappropriate concepts into their Christian beliefs. The first key word to focus on here is φιλοσοφιας (root: φιλοσοφια), which is the Greek word for philosophy here.  Philosophy literally means the love of wisdom.  In this passage the word is used either of zeal for or skill in any art or science, any branch of knowledge. Used once in the NT of the theology, or rather theosophy, of certain Jewish Christian ascetics, which busied themselves with refined and speculative enquiries into the nature and classes of angels, into the ritual of the Mosaic law and the regulations of Jewish tradition respecting practical life.

The Death of Socrates

This type of philosophy Paul is referring to is of a vain folly.  Paul uses the word ‘empty,’ κενης (root: kenos), to explain what he means. This type of philosophy is that which is empty and devoid of truth–it contains nothing. Compare this passage to Col. 2.23,

These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

Ephesians 5.6,

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

and 1 Tim. 6.20:

O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge.”

So what does this mean? This means we need to have a philosophy according to Christ.  Our knowledge, metaphysics, and axiology must be conformed with Christ.  It’s impossible to be anti-philosophy.  Everyone has a philosophy. How do you know what you know? That’s epistemology, a branch of philosophy. What is God and what is reality? That’s a metaphysical question, which is philosophy.  What is right and wrong? What is beautiful and what isn’t? Again, these are axiological questions—philosophy. The Bible isn’t telling us to not be philosophical; rather, it’s telling us to have the right philosophy and worldview. In the words of Christian philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig, “The man who says he has no need for philosophy is the man who is most likely to be deceived by it.”