Thursday, February 25, 2010

James Anderson Blog and John Frame Festschrift

James Anderson, a RTS-Charlotte professor, has just made available his chapter in John Frame's Festschrift titled, Speaking the Truth in Love. Anderson's article is called, "Presuppositionalism and Frame’s Epistemology," and as the title suggests, the article gives a succinct overview of Frame's presuppositionalism. Some will even be interested in that he defends Frame's triperspectivalism which is regularly misunderstood by those who appear to have not read Frame very carefully (or at all!). Anderson writes,
Perhaps the most helpful analogy here is the geometrical one. Given that we are stereo-optical creatures restricted to one point of view in time and space, we lack the capacity to see every part of a three-dimensional object at once, particularly if it is large and complex. For example, suppose I visit a house to assess it as a potential purchase. Clearly, it is not possible for me to view the front, back, and sides of the house simultaneously. I need to change my vantage point—my perspective—to gain a fuller understanding of the house. Likewise, I cannot see the entire house all at once in fine detail. I can first stand back and take a wide view, but then I need to step up close and scrutinize individual features. Exterior and interior views give me further perspectives and enhance my knowledge. I may also decide to visit the property again in different weather or lighting conditions. Finally, it will be prudent of me to invite other people to view the house, so that I can benefit from their additional perspectives. Our spatiotemporal limitations are but one aspect of our finitude.

Frame’s basic point is that what goes for geometrical perspectives goes for other kinds of conceptual perspectives too. The geometrical analogy also makes it clear that the charge of relativism, occasionally leveled at Framean perspectivalism by its critics, is quite misguided. It doesn’t follow, from the fact that a house appears differently to five people standing in various locations, that the house as such is different for each person or that there are no objective truths about the house. The critics thus conflate relativism and relativity; the former is self-defeating nonsense, whereas the latter ought to be self-evident common sense. In any case, Frame is careful to point out that the very basis for objectivity is the existence and self-revelation of an absolute God.
My point in this quote is not to claim that Frame's triperspectival "perspective" is helpful (though I have found it to be helpful in my hermeneutics), but only to point out that triperspectivalism, rightly understood, is not teaching "relativism" or that you can't call someone's perspective "wrong." After all, Frame calls people's "views" wrong all the time!

If you are interested in the festschrift more details can be found at Anderson's blog.

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