Re: relativism

Rob Wahl (
Sat, 22 Mar 1997 21:08:30 -0800

At 05:02 PM 3/22/97 EST, Paul Arveson wrote:
>Jason Alley wrote:
>All knowledge is not personal. This implies a relativistic approach to
>truth, where something may be "true for me," or "true for you," but not
>"true for him or her."

Paul Arveson wrote:
>The phrase Jason takes exception to here was derived from Michael Polanyi's
>book on the philosophy of science, "Personal Knowledge: Towards a
I just want to say that I am in agreement with Polanyi's personal
knowledge. That's neither here nor there when it comes to the correcting
false views.

I read _Personal Knowledge_ just after I finished by B.Sc. a the Unversity
of BC, a stayed old school with ivory walled libraries; and where they will
still teaching logical positivism in 1979, I suppose maybe they are still.
I have to say it was really refreshing to me. I also read a book, and I
can't remember who it's by called, I think, _The Tacit Dimention_ perhaps
also by Polanyi. Both these books speak of the need to add personal
committment to knowledge, which is always less than certain. In 1984, while
working on a thesis for an M.C.S. wrote: "Rational Epistemology seems
frequently, maybe always to fall short of it's goal. For example why is it
that one can almost prove the existence of God, but not quite. Laws of
nature don't seem to hold all the time, and matter is not fully undestood,
nor is evolution completely clear. Gases do not reach zero volume at 0 K
and so on. Why is knowledge never perfect? It seems true that personal
committment is a necessary component of knowledge. Could this be due to the
fall of man?"

Micheal Polanyi said, "Committment offers those who accept it legitimate
grounds for the affermation of personal convictions with universal intent
[truth]. Standing on these grounds, we claim that our participation is
personal, **not subjective** p. 342 [emphasis mine].

Personal knowedge is not relativistic knowledge, to "the data seem to point
to... it simply adds, " and I accept that as true." After reading a
significant amount of discussion regarding Phil Johnson, and having spent a
little time at his web page, I too have to say that Phil Johnson needs to
commit to the data he knows and understands.