Throughout the Posts and Pages of this Blog, I will sometimes refer to ideas of my own developed in pursuit of truth. These ideas proceed from and rely on reason and do not incorporate any element of faith. In the future, I aim as well to rationally address truths of faith in an effort to more fully understand what it means to be a Christian. I acknowledge my need to recognize when the limits of reason have been reached and to rely on faith accordingly. To continue to work towards developing my faith, one of the main purposes of this Blog is to align the truths at which I have arrived through reason with those of faith. So in that sense, all Posts and Pages should feature an equal treatment of the two approaches. But with respect to the purely rational approach, I will explain here my theory of truth to prevent the duplication of my efforts in future entries for my own sake as well as any of my regular readers, if any, who are already familiar with the concepts. This will also provide new readers with a quick reference guide for further description if they are unfamiliar with the theory behind my approach. When relying on my theory in future Posts and Pages, I will refer the reader to this entry accordingly.
The Qualitative Theory of Truth
How are we able to arrive at and identify truth? What type of questions can be asked? And what type of answers can be proposed? With this, I am reminded of my Beginning Journalism class in high school which outlined the need to identify the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of every news story. These rather basic questions address all that can be known about a subject. When considering these questions, marked differences emerge between what they address and the usefulness of the information procured.
Applying these 6 categories of questions and their answers to the world, a distinction can be made between those that are Quantitative versus Qualitative. This distinction is that the former act to identify, classify, distinguish, and name a subject. The Quantitative consists of statements of fact regarding a subject’s Who, What, When, and Where. Some examples include “Who was Jesus?”, “What is the purpose of the Church?”, “When was Augustine’s City of God written?”, and “Where is the Mount of Olives?”.
Qualitative questions and their answers, on the other hand, further seek to define two distinct things: 1.) a subject’s purpose and 2.) the means employed by the subject to attain its purpose. These consist of statements of value regarding the subject’s Why? and How? The Qualitative provides for greater explanatory power than does the Quantitative in its teleological ability to identify the purpose of a subject and delineate its end, final cause, goal, meaning, and intent. Some examples include “Why do I exist?” and “How am I to fulfill my purpose in life?”
When seeking truth, it makes sense to start with the foundation from which all else builds – God’s existence. When applying the Quantitative and Qualitative approaches to God, the following is evident:
Quantitative Knowledge of God – Pursues knowledge of God through reason based on identifying and understanding His Qualities and Attributes. This information is a priori, factual, and typically addresses Who?, What?, When? and Where? questions. It is abstract in the sense that it cannot be experienced and provides no existential, practical, or useful information to determine right action or a manner of living. More simply put, this type of understanding is “knowledge for knowledge’s sake”. Philosophically speaking, this information is of a metaphysical nature. Examples of this type of knowledge include God’s Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence.
When specifically contemplating God, a third approach to truth emerges – Principles of Creation. This is closely related to the Qualitative and refers to knowledge of Him based on Quantitative truth, observations of Creation, and God’s relationship to it. These are inductive and reason from particular truths in the world to general truths concerning Him. This information is typically theological. An example is the idea that God Created to be known. As a Perfect Unlimited Being, God lacks nothing and, therefore, needs nothing. His Creation is, therefore, unnecessary in the sense that it provides no benefit to God. Yet He manifested his Creative Power nonetheless. This also accounts for God’s Mercy.
Qualitative Knowledge of God – Parlays the rational knowledge obtained from the Quantitative Approach combined with the Principles of Creation into existential, practical, and useful guidance for living life. This information typically addresses How? and Why? questions. After obtaining Quantitative knowledge of God’s Attributes and Qualities or Principles of Creation, the question then turns to how? to respond. It prompts action in accordance with the information gained. Philosophically speaking, this knowledge is moral and ethical. For example, God’s Mercy calls for gratitude on my part and a consequent duty to sow and reciprocate the values which manifest from his Qualities and Attributes – in the case of His Mercy, Love’s Acceptance, Compassion, Forgiveness, and Understanding
The Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches, combined with the Principles of Creation are all useful in the search for truth. However, because of the response evoked from us of the Qualitative and Principles of Creation, these emerge as superior to the Quantitative. We cannot refer to the Quantitative’s “knowledge for knowledge’s sake” to determine right action and a way of life. But the practicality offered by the Qualitative and Principles of Creation allow for the knowledge they supply as a blueprint for living.
A summary up through this point is in order:
1.) Truth is pursued based on the type of questions asked and answers obtained.
2.) There are 3 approaches to truth – Quantitative, Principles of Creation, and Qualitative
3.) Quantitative truth distinguishes statements of fact.
4.) Qualitative truth distinguishes statements of value.
5.) Principles of Creation provides for knowledge of God based on His relationship to Creation.
6.) The Qualitative and the Principles of Creation is superior to the Quantitative in light of their explanatory power and ability to identify a subject’s purpose.
In the next Page, “The Qualitative Meaning of Life”, I hope to lay the framework for developing a manner of living consistent with knowledge obtained through the Qualitative Approach to Truth and Principles of Creation.