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In 2002, Fergus Kerr commented on Vatican I:

"Read in context, the claim for the possibility of knowing God with certainty from the world, by the natural light of reason, is not as ambitious as Roman Catholic apologists have often hoped, and Barthian theologians always feared. [...] The emphasis is entirely on the claim that reasoning of some kind from the existence of the world to the existence of God is possible, without appealing to faith..." (Kerr, After Aquinas: Versions of Thomism. p. 36)


This paper treats two issues in Kerr's statement. Firstly, the problems raised by the phrase "the world". It features in the opening paragraphs of Wittgenstein's Tractatus, and has been discussed by amongst others Russell and more recently, David Armstrong. Analysing "the world" as a totality of facts requires a general, "logical" fact that these are all the facts there are, which in turn raises further problems. I develop a suggestion of Armstrong that the Tractarian notion of "showing" can fruitfully be applied to the problem. The paper concludes by considering the second question that now becomes pertinent: whether the Tractarian notion of showing - and trying to say what is shown - can be regarded as "reasoning of some kind".

Periode19. jan. 2009
BegivenhedstitelThe Grandeur of Reason
ArrangørUniversity of Nottingham
PlaceringRom, ItalienVis på kort