A System Of Beliefs Essay Research Paper

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A System Of Beliefs Essay, Research Paper By D.C. Burch 4Nov1996 Before I can go on to lay out the foundations of my belief system, I think it would be helpful to shed some light on the playing field in which these ideas are to be considered. This playing field is constructed of words and statements, of course, but the precise meaning of “words” and “statements” is often left unclear. I will begin by defining these things as I intend to use them. I will also make a cursury attempt to explain the different types of statements we will encounter, the importance of falsifiablity and the role of faith, in addition to a smattering of other definitions that will become important as we proceed. Statements The ultimate building blocks of any philosophical system are

statements. A statement is an attempt to communicate that which is true (or perceived to be true) through the symbolic code (words) of a language. All symbols are, of course, inherently limited. There exist various properties in a symbol’s object of reference which cannot be contained within the symbol itself. An obvious example of this is the property of real existence. We may discuss in detail the various properties of a horse and of a unicorn. Considered only from a linguistic standpoint, a horse and unicorn can be assumed to be virtually synonymous. However, the object of the symbol horse possesses the property of real existence while the object of the symbol unicorn does not. The word/symbol horse, though, cannot convey this property because it cannot be contained by the

symbol. True knowledge of this property can only be obtained by finding a real horse and touching it, riding it, getting to know it. The consequence of this is the understanding that there exist incommunicable properties of all real objects. These incommunicable properties are no less real than their communicable counterparts. They simply cannot be conveyed by symbols. Knowledge of these properties can only be obtained by direct experience with the object itself. These properties will hereafter be referred to as existential properties. Please note, however, that acknowledgment of such existential properties does not negate the reality or real importance of those properties which can be contained and conveyed by the object’s symbol. All real objects contain both communicable and

existential properties and to disparage consideration of either category is to limit the degree to which we can understand the nature of such objects. Literal and Analogical Symbolism Statements will always be either a form of literal symbolism or analogical symbolism. The former occurs when the statement is referring directly to a real object encountered in nature. The latter occurs primarily in religious statements in which the object of reference is a thing outside of nature (supernatural). In such statements we understand that the symbol is drawing a helpful analogy between a natural object and a supernatural object which is neither wholly like, nor wholly unlike the natural object. We understand that, while the two objects are not identical, there are genuine points of

similarity. For example, when we say that God is a Father, we do not mean that he is biologically responsible for our existence nor that he is exactly like our own fathers. What we mean is that he is analogous to our fathers in that he is responsible for our existence and that he loves and provides for us in a fashion that is similar to the majority of human fathers. A Priori vs. Reasonable Statements Any given statement may be either a priori or reasonable. a prior statements are those statements whose truth value is not dependent on the validity of a logical deduction from other statements. We do not reason to a priori statements. We reason from them. There are no premises which give rise to them. Rather, they are the premises upon which all other deductions are ultimately