Gordon Clark on the Problems of Empiricism
by Douglas J. Douma
June 25, 2015
Empiricism has been, and is, a prominent epistemology among both secular and Christian philosophers. It is often accepted as the “common sense” epistemology, but certainly hasn’t been without its detractors in the history of philosophy. Many ancient Greek philosophers, Plato and Plotinus among them, critiqued empiricism as untenable. Early Christian thought, as exemplified by St. Augustine, also largely opposed empiricism.
It was largely this Augustinian tradition which Gordon Clark followed. Arguments against empiricism constitute a significant portion of Clark’s works. The reason for this emphasis is clear: various forms of empiricism, all of which Clark considered demonstrably false, dominated the philosophical landscape during his day (and continue to do so in the present). Clark knew that the ancient Greek’s arguments against empiricism had not been refuted, but simply ignored.
Defining empiricism Clark wrote: “Empiricism, strictly speaking…
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