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3:54 AM
@curiousdannii This earlier blog article by Roger Olson is the best I can find so far that explains in every day language what nominalism is, and what it does to theology. It happens when people ask WHY something (like lying) is good/evil or why God saves a person and not another and the ANSWER comes in the form of "It is simply whatever God does, period."
The realist side which Roger calls "Logos theology" says that "there is a link, an intrinsic connection between God's character and right and wrong in the world. And between God's truth and ours. 'All truth is God's truth.' Reason, healed by grace, reaches upwards to God by the light of revelation and faith, and is capable of grasping, to some extent, the truth, beauty and goodness of God embedded in creation. (cont'd)
Sure, because of our finitude and fallenness, we will never, at least in this world, have a full or perfect grasp of them. And our grasp of them will never be autonomous. We need revelation and faith, the 'light of the mind' that Augustine talked about, illumination and wisdom from God. But there's no arbitrariness in truth, beauty, and goodness, not even in God himself. They are embedded in him, his eternal nature, and shine forth into his creation. (emphasis mine) (cont'd)
Christian philosophy seeks them out and, by God's grace, can grasp them at least partially. (end quote)
That is the core idea that for me personally is top 3. The project that evangelicals like Hans Boersma, et al are doing is to recover that "logos theology" as practiced by the early church fathers, which he calls "participatory ontology". The challenge is to demonstrate to evangelical Reformed skeptics: 1) It's a philosophical option that is Biblical; 2) The church fathers did enough to NOT fall into full-blown Platonism; 3) Graced and healed reason can do this to a limited extent.
To show why C.S. Lewis is an ally to "participatory ontology", the excellent journal article that shows the connection is: Toward a Narnian Valuation of Nature: Participatory Ontology by Jeff Sellars (Sehnsucht: The C.S. Lewis Journal Vol. 2. No. 1 (2008).
 
4:20 AM
@GratefulDisciple Thanks for the link, helps me understand Nominalism more. But I don't think he's right that Western Christianity is so overwhelmingly controlled by it. He is far from convincing.
From my experience strict voluntarism is very much a minority position. I'd say that God being ontologically virtuous is very much the common position.
 
BTW, the very idea of Shadowland itself I think is participatory. I found a novelization of the 1993 movie Shadowlands here, which is available at archive.org. I found that reading the novelization complements the movie very much, especially the Prologue, because it can go into what the characters are thinking, just like in a novel. This is the first time I read this genre.
@curiousdannii That's very encouraging to hear. I'm glad to hear it. Just making sure that by saying "God is ontologically virtuous" means we can discover it in nature to a certain extent, "nature" includes what our soul is capable of grasping, not simply what's empirically available to see. Anyway, my purpose is more to sharpen our perception, to detect better when a belief goes in the wrong direction.
 
Okay, so I've just read the Catastrophe of Nominalism article too.
My impression is that both nominalism and realism are misguided nonsense. Outside of philosophy schools, I doubt hardly anyone thinks according to either side, especially not Christians.
Goodness, beauty, and truth aren't just names applied to nothing. But neither do they have some sort of transcendent existence.
Instead they're some of the communicable attributes of God, and which he granted to humanity the capacity to recognise, conceptualise, and speak about.
Maybe this is the "conceptualism" Olsen refers to? Not sure.
If Olsen's Realism is the same sort of thing as Plato's Forms (where the essence of a perfect circle truly exists), then I have to reject it.
I don't know what he means be conceptualism, but the name appeals to me ;). I think many abstract ideas are shared concepts, and perhaps could be said to exist as they're more than merely subjective thoughts, but don't have any sort of "essence".
I haven't read any Boersma yet, but participatory ontology, just from the sounds of the words, sounds like it would mesh really well with both the theories of the communicable attributes of God, and Union with Christ.
@GratefulDisciple In apologetics, is the Moral Argument this sort of thing, that the human soul grasps for goodness?
 
 
10 hours later…
2:30 PM
@curiousdannii Yes, nominalism is especially pernicious to Christians. But as you said, unconstrained realism can go into error too, like Platonism. For me, both terms are good to know as part of conceptual vocabulary to understand the world and to define a safe passage to go: in the middle. Aquinas is said to be a moderate realist.
@curiousdannii Yes, thank you for suggesting comparison with communicable attributes of God. Sounds very relevant to this issue. I need to read up on this theological category more and how different branches of Protestantism define them in relation to creation.
@curiousdannii You're referring to paragraph 3 of the Catastrophe article. I'm not sure whether he's talking about it, more like locating everyday Christian's position on the Problem of universals in philosophy. Maybe that philosophical category is related to the theological category of communicable attributes of God. It's this kind of interconnections between the philosophy domain and the theology domain that I really want to be more conscious.
That's why I'm so much interested in the topic of relationship between Reason (philosophy) and Faith (theology), each has its own domain, terminology, competency, source of truth, etc. A good Christian synthesis should enable one domain to help each other, since a human being has both faculties.
 
 
2 hours later…
4:19 PM
@curiousdannii Olsen may refer to this meaning of Conceptualism, which is between nominalist's complete arbitrariness to Plato style realism, but it is still categorized as anti-realist. Maybe if a Christian solves the problem of universals this way PLUS trust that God communicates some of his attributes (truth, goodness, and beauty) through the channel of conceptualism, it ceases to be anti realist.
 

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