Monday, October 17, 2005

Adventures in Philosophy: What Capitalizaiton Can do for You

nana said: hope you got some sleep, dear little Daniel man, and that you did what you needed to do on your mid term. thank God for mid term breaks. sleep it you oodles and gobloons.Lord, Liar, Lunatic. i love the alliteration. interesting study. please let me know your conculsions. what does Chesterson say?

I'm not going to quite sleep away my Mid Term Breaks, but I'm off to a good start in that department. Physics was an interesting test and I'm a bit nervous as to what the grade is. I hope it will be a B, at least. Other classes seemed to have gone fairly well. Not sure about English. English I also am hoping for a B. I've gotten a B+ and a B so far on Orr's papers; hopefully on an essay exam it's roughly the same.

As for Lord, Liar, or Lunatic: I diagrammed the argument (I'll post the diagram in my more awake hours, later "today") and showed it to the professor I've been corresponding with (name / last name withheld for confidentiality reasons.) We had a lengthy discussion about a lot of things, but that argument was one of them.

In particular we've been doing (and did again) a bit of hair-splitting over the meaning of the phrases the Son of God, the son of God and sons of God. (This is important because Lewis' argument rests in part upon what claims Christ made, and so as such when Jesus claims to be "the Son of God" it would be best to make sure we know what He means. Of course I've taken my side on that one, but the professor is a philosopher and we were looking at the argument skeptically, and some of his theories about the meaning of the words as such were taken into account. Vital differences:

"the son of God" -- refers to only one, and son isn't capitalized, which serves as the difference between the wording used with Adam and the wording used with Jesus (with Jesus, it is capitalized)
"the Son of God" -- only used in reference to Christ, or in reference to claims Christ is supposed to have made about himself.
"sons of God" -- refers to lots of things, including (quasi-angelic?) beings in the Old Testament. But it's plural, suggesting that it's not an "only one" as the first two phrases are.

Capitalization marks the difference in terms of the word Son vs the word son. Wherever "son of God" refers to Christ, "son" is capitalized. It might not seem like much, but when a translator decides on that one letter they make serious implications. Bear with me if you don't understand just yet.

When using the word "God" vs. the word "god," the capital G makes the difference in determining whether a false god or the One True God is referenced. The same thing applies in the phrase "son of God" vs. "Son of God"--except that the uncapitalized letter doesn't denote anything especially false--just that the word works in a different sense.

So I conjectured to the professor that, given that we could know how a translator determines to use the capital S, so that we might be able to judge the system of determination as good or bad, we might be able to know, to a better degree of certainty, exactly what claims Christ made about himself. Of course I already believe I know to a very good degree of certainty. One day I do intend to attempt to peice together the system that a translator will use for determining where that capital S is used and where it is not.

The most amazing realization that came out of that discussion was that there really was so much of a meaning, so much of an interpretation, in that capital S. Consciously or not, they will confirm the hypothesis that, in Scripture, capitalization is helping them to tell the difference between false Gods and the One True God, between the sons of God, the son of God and the Son of God.

I'm also forcing myself to read Karl Barth this week. If I have to read Toni Morrison (The Bluest Eye) I might as well also read some of, if not all of, the selection of Barth's Church Dogmatics which was in our library. I'll have more on Barth, and my diagram and further analysis of Lord, Liar or Lunatic later.

Teaser analysis: Granted:

- a slight reworking of the argument for more formality, implied steps and less-harsh rhetoric
- replacing Lewis' conclusion regarding one's reaction to Christ's claim with a more specific conclusion that is often given it, and may have been given it by Lewis outside of the argument as presented by the excerpt

It is quite credible to say that, whether the argument itself is sound or unsound, the argument form is perfectly valid. That is to say, if everything Lewis takes as a given is given him, the conclusion can be proven logically.

Oh yes. As for Chesterton...he wasn't alive when LLL was put out. Or do you mean in terms of proving Christ's divinity? Anyway, good night and God bless.


nana said...

i meant in terms of Chesterson's belief system. does all the gooey "little Daniel" "I love you's" embarrass you? If it does I'll stop.

D.J. Lower / KKairos said...

Generally I don't reply via comment, but I feel it's warranted here, just because I promised a huge honkin' diagram in the next post and I'm not quite ready to deliver on that one.

Chesterton was an orthodox Christian (even an orthodox Catholic, which is a slightly more expanded orthodoxy) as far as I can tell, meaning he would have had to hold to a belief in Christ's dual-nature (fully human and fully divine.)

Matthew g Prior said...

We are going on more about Russell tonight at Satellite, just to let you know! I'm going to be reading a couple pages out of one of his books.