This is the densest chapter so far and represents the thrust of the book. Frame’s text is lighter on early and medieval thought and more weighted towards the modern era. Not a criticism. Just an observation.
Thesis: The two renaissance themes–humanism and antiquarianism–couldn’t be integrated. Do we gain knowledge by reflecting on the past or do we gain knowledge by using our autonomous reason divorced from tradition (167)?
Presented alternatives in metaphysics and epistemology
Luther: in his metaphysics he turned away from the NeoPlatonic “One” and back to the absolute and personal God of revelation (169).
Calvin marks a new move: he begins his Institutes with the knowledge of God. Knowledge of God is never apart from reverence and love towards him. This also determines man’s self-knowledge: “how can we imagine knowing anything without knowing ourselves, that is, knowing our knowing” (Frame 173 n16)?
Calvin’s epistemology breaks with Renaissance and medieval models. Correlated with Calvin’s absolute personal theism.
No point in examining each individual thinker, except where I think Frame is more than usually clear.
Descartes: doubt is an activity of the mind. I cannot doubt my mind’s doubting. Decent discussion on mind-body dualism.
Spinoza: “substance is that which is in itself and is conceived through itself” (183). Thus, “God” is the only substance (though there are an infinity of modes of that substance). God is nature naturing. The world is nature natured.
Leibniz: idealist atomist. Mind is the most basic category of reality. These monadic minds have no windows but they are mirrors towards the other. While there are problems here, some have suggested that Leibniz anticipated modern computer languages.
Too much ink has been spilled on these guys. I won’t go into it here.
Does he get into Calvin vs. the Calvinists at all? Or does he side-step that whole discussion?
He doesn’t mention Muller by name, but he says the later Calvinists didn’t fundamentally change anything.
Did you read this book all in one sitting?
I’m halfway through. Several sittings.
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