Philosophy Word of the Day — Grammatical Form

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“The apparent surface form of an expression, in comparison with the underlying logical structure.  In any language some expressions may resemble others in appearance, yet differ fundamentally in their kind of meaning.  Such expressions may then be said to be similar in grammatical, but different in logical form.

“In Through the Looking Glass Alice said she saw nobody on the road, and the King envied her her eyes: ‘It’s as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!’  Lewis Carroll was thus representing him as being misled by the similarity in grammatical form between ‘nobody’ and ‘somebody’ into construing both words as having the same logical form, that is, as both referring to a person.”

A Dictionary of Philosophy (2nd ed.), Antony Flew, ed., 135.

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The Renaissance in Christian Philosophy

I’ve written a guest post for the excellent blog of the Harvard Icthus Journal, the Fish Tank, on the renaissance in Christian philosophy over the past forty years.  Please check it out and share your comments or questions there.  Here’s the intro:

The last forty years have witnessed a renaissance in philosophy done by Christians and applied to important topics in theology and religion.  One reason this is remarkable is that Christian philosophy of religion had nearly been vanquished in the decades between 1920 and 1960, due to the dominance in academic philosophy of the movement known as logical positivism.

This movement and its related “verification principle” insisted that only statements that were either true by definition (all bachelors are unmarried males) or empirically verifiable (helium is lighter than air) could be considered meaningful.  This meant that theological beliefs like “God is love” or “Jesus is Lord” (which couldn’t be empirically verified) were literally without meaning—something akin to Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky.”  Thus philosophical work on religious topics was marginalized and unable to gain a hearing in journals, books, or academic conferences. (continue)

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