Epistemology and Information on the Internet

A practice that is relevant to the development of views is finding citable sources. However, what constitutes a citable source is predicated on the notion that a source is trustworthy.

In contemporary times, one of the most relevant topics related to developing views is how we accept what we consider useful for dissemination, and the Internet is related to that. Bo Brinkman and Alton F. Sanders (2013) said, “Epistemology, roughly speaking, studies the nature of knowledge and how we know what we know” (p. 211). A practice that is relevant to the development of views is finding citable sources. However, what constitutes a citable source is predicated on the notion that a source is trustworthy. Brinkman and Sanders mentioned that the start of the age of Enlightenment began societal dependence on singular experts who apply reason and construct knowledge (p. 211). Although this is the progress of history from a secular perspective and is valid as a concept of reason, it is a position apart from the grace of the Most High. We may look to the ancient philosophy, that of science, also relevant for an understanding of how Biblical truths are germane. In paraphrasing, Stephen Law (2007) said,

Scientists construct theories they believe are confirmed by what they observe. Such confirmation, however, comes in degrees. A theory might be very slightly confirmed by a piece of evidence, or it might be very strongly confirmed. One question we might ask about confirmation is: what makes one theory more strongly confirmed than the next? (170)

For Biblical truths, I think that individuals and people may rely on trust. The strongest argument that a skeptic could say against trusting the Biblical Scriptures is that no sense of self or self-concept may be trusted; all of reality could be a hologram for a single brain interfacing with a computer while placed in a vat. However, the notion that nothing is real therefore nothing is permitted is an induction of an induction, and doing so is a failure to build a general or specific argument based on the character of an individual person or people related to an action or series of actions. Without the acknowledgment of differentiated character, there can be no general brain in a vat. Without a general commanding character, there can be no multiple brains in vats. The notion that a computer could represent human ideals as well as human immorality and unethical behavior as an unconstructed leader that could be known in human terms separates the skeptic’s argument from a brain in a vat controlled by a computer from the essential resulting position that is a computer that is co-dependent on the brain because the best that the computer could be is another level of creation. There must be an ultimate level of truth by the skeptic’s own method of exhaustion. As Thomas Aquinas said of the highest level of existence that must be apart from reality, et-hoc-dicimus-deum: “And this we call God.” (Charry, 2000, p. 33). In proposing this position as the basis of trust, I think that sources that seek truth may be trusted.

When reviewing reports from one source or another on a single issue and there are contradictory reports, that may be an indicator of some unseen truth that may be derived or, on the other side of the mathematical axis of logic, induced. Although there is a contemporary notion that a truth is merely a fact, Biblical truths are facts that apply to all of mankind, male and female. Different people saying the exact same thing about an event implies that there is one source thus different people saying different things about an event implies that there are multiple sources and is more trustworthy than a single source. A Biblical truth that is relevant to this discussion is a verse from Mosaic Law. The Book of Deuteronomy (KJV) says, “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established” (19:15). Therefore, even with two or more sources, if these so-called sources have a single source for themselves linking them all together, two separate sources are more historically credible in a way that truths may be respected and understood.

With that said, the Internet offers access to much data on the internet, but in my experience, there are relatively few major sources of information. The vertical honor or prestige that is apparent is elevated from the base of horizontal honor that is introductory recognition. For the purpose of keeping the freedoms of speech and equal protections led by the United States, alternative sources or news should probably be acknowledged in a truthful way. Going against that is an attack on the integrity of character that Internet news sources have respect for apart from mere consistency. Rather than only consistency, the integrity of character that I speak of is the consistency of doing right things. Without that kind of integrity, any notion of doing the right thing is coated by the subject of seeking an end that results in maximum good for a particular group of people rather than what benefits man in common. As a Christian American, I believe that those who lack in basic necessities such as knowledge need truths that may help enrich characters so even if money is tight, people may rejoice in the blessings that they do have or will have with hard work.

Even though the epistemology that people may take for granted can be useful in a variety of disciplines, I think that there are issues with contemporary perspectives related to the development of views about contemporary issues. There is a useful application for the skeptic’s strongest position and that is the recognition that computer that the brain in a vat is attached to would ultimately be a part of creation as well, so assuming the highest existence as beyond reality that is thus supernatural is more tenable. Having said that, distinguishing truths that apply to all men, male and female, may help recognize fact from fiction for the purpose of developing information relevant for dissemination on the Internet.

References

Brinkman, W. J., & Sanders, A. F. (2013). Ethics in a Computing Culture. Boston, MA.

Charry, E. T. (2000). Inquiring after God: Classic and contemporary readings. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Law, S. (2012). Philosophy.

 

Nicomachean Ethics Book I: The Good for Man

In the days of Ancient Greece, before Christ walked the earth in the flesh, a philosopher named Aristotle of Cyrene wrote a worked titled Nichomachean Ethics, and this entry is about the first book. The first book, THE GOOD FOR MAN, Aristotle begins with an assumption about all men. Steven M. Cahn and Peter Markie wrote that Aristotle said, “All human activities aim at some good: some goods are subordinate to others” (Cahn, Markie, 2012 p. 124). Aristotle was claiming that every personal and professional action throughout history can be assumed as working towards some end goal from a purpose. This may be interpreted as people having any particular end that is a personal philosophical argument. In the post-modern age, this is called a worldview. After this initial assumption, Aristotle derives an answer. Aristotle said, “The science of the good for man is politics” (p. 124). Further, Robert C. Bartlett asserted his stance about Aristotle. Bartlett said, “And in order to grasp the most important arguments of Aristotle’s “philosophy of human matters”—for example, to understand the ground of the superiority of intellectual to moral virtue—such reflection on happiness proves to be crucial” (Bartlett, 2008). With the words of Aristotle and Bartlett’s analysis, superior mental ability may be surmised as the means for attaining a particular good according to Aristotle.

Before this, the Biblical Scriptures contrasted this assertion. For example, the Book of Micah says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (NIV, Micah 6:8). This is after the Exodus date asserted by Ralph K. Hawkins. In paraphrasing, Hawkins said, “Both biblical and extrabiblical evidence pointed to a mid-15th century BC date” (Hawkins, 2007). Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton assert an approximate date for Micah. Hill and Walton wrote, “He [Micah] is said to have prophesied during the days of kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. These three kings reigned during the last half of the eighth century BC, and it is a safe assumption that the prophecies would have been recorded at that time” (Hill & Walton, 2009, p. 642). During the time of the divided monarchy of Israel, Micah prophesied that God’s law is a reflection of His intelligence.

Although God is thought of in contemporary times as all knowing, the Hebrew Bible saw him particularly as infinitely wise in contexts of morality that exist in all things, and that is the distinguishing trait that separates Yahweh from all other gods. This may be seen with God’s position of lifting up people out of slavery and making them leaders of the ancient world; God is best noticed in his blessing of the meek. Therefore, Aristotle’s good for man is probably challenged the most in helping those who are meek. In my experience, the political good of a group even if refined from birth is not always moral in the eyes of Christ.

Bibliography

Bartlett, R. C. (2008). Aristotle’s introduction to the problem of happiness: On Book I of the Nicomachean Ethics. American Journal of Political Science, 52(3), 677-687. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5907.2008.00336.x

Cahn, S. M., & Markie, P. J. (2012). Ethics: History, Theory, and Contemporary Issues (5th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

 

Hill, A. E., & Walton, J. H. (2009). A survey of the Old Testament (3rd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House.