April 15, 2015

Gordon Clark on What is Meant Today by “Reason”

By In Blogs, C.Jay Engel

From Gordon H. Clark’s outstanding textbook on Logic:

“Theologians and secularists quarrel over revelation and reason. The secularists boast about reason and charge the theologian with irrationality. The theologians, or some of them, boast about revelation and deprecate “mere” human reason and logic. Both are guilty of equivocation. Today when secularists praise reason, they do not mean what Augustine, Descartes, and Spinoza meant by reason. These three men meant an intellectual ability to argue. The secularists are (almost unanimously in this twentieth century) empiricists, and by reason they mean sensory experience.”

My reaction to that:

Basically, we ought to embrace logic and reason. But what the modern meaning of reason intends to communicate (I’m thinking of people like Ayn Rand and outlets also like Reason.com) is something based on empiricism. For Clark (following Augustine), logic and reason are synonymous, and are definitely not empirical.

By the way folks, this is why I love the Austrian School so much and am such a diehard fan of Ludwig von Mises: he was a robust anti-empiricist who challenged and dismissed all the attempts to align reason with empiricism.

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com