Devotion and discussion!
As I've lived my life, gone through my busy days, had both engaging and mundane conversations in which people made inherent assumptions about reality and how the world works, as I myself have made both guesses and claims to "facts", I've found the need to sit back and contemplate, "What do I believe and why?" "How do I know what I believe is real?" "How can I justify the claims I make?"
These are fundamental questions that guide our lives and interactions. These basic questions might be condensed and phrased as, "How do you know things?" And this type of inquiry is what has developed into the branch of philosophy called epistemology.
So this is where I am and how I express my own epistemological reasoning...
I start with the basic infamous premise of Descartes, "Cogito, ergo sum" (I think, therefore, I am) from his work Discourse of Method. I think of it this way, "Since I do at all, I must be in some way." Basically, by questioning my existence I justify my belief in my existence.
Now, in a general way, from here I differ from (what I understand to be the overall) rationalism of the Enlightenment. This is because I consider myself to be a "critical realist." Here's why.
I don't know! I don't know whether or not I'm a brain in a jar, or a program running in a Tron-like grid, or that life isn't just an illusionary dream, akin to Super Mario Brothers 2. So I have to make a presupposition that at least some of my sensory perceptions are accurate, and thereby reflect reality in some way. I understand the term "realist" to refer to someone who believes reality can, at least to some degree, be perceived, and thereby exists in some way independent of my own observation.
Without this, I have nowhere to go, right?. I see it as "game over," like in Aliens. I grant that I may be wrong, but the way I "see" it, I have no choice but to, at least initially, assume everything isn't simulated or an illusion if I want to do anything that I consider to be meaningful.
So how do I make conclusions about what I perceive to be reality, then? Now we're talking! And this is where it gets complicated and messy, and where I'd appreciate input!
The way I "picture" it, I use a multi-sensory iterative process of hypothesis and subsequent "dialogue" (hence the critical aspect) based on the the "images," so to speak, which I perceive through my senses (perceived both intentionally and non-intentionally), and also what I understand (via senses) others to be perceiving from the whole of reality that they observe (through the fallible grid of their observations, their remembering, and their communication, of course). This normally manifests itself in terms of ideas, objects, events, etc.
So I picture the process of "coming to know" as this spirally path between me, the "knower," and the things that I'm seeking to know. And what happens is that piece by piece I acknowledge (come to claim to "know") things that fit well (at least provisionally) with how I've come to understand and integrate the rest of my reality perceptions.
And so, if you couldn't tell from the blog title or knowing me in person, I've come to know the biblical texts, commonly called the Bible or Scripture or God's Word (by churches), as the most satisfying and liberating way to understand and observe reality, and that's the fundamental part of what I want to share by means of this blog on a regular basis. This is why both devotion and discussion are absolutely essential to my beliefs. And what I find intriguing is how the more the more I come to know the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier god of the Bible, the more I realize that actually, I must approach him as the one unknown...(not the other way around). So God have mercy!
Now, I know that by stating all of this I've stepped into a deep, well-worn, uncertain and ever-changing path in a field of philosophy in which I'm not a particular expert nor have been academically trained for. However, the reason I do so is the same reason for which I move beyond Descartes, and the reason for which I attempt to construct reality for myself: to not do means certain failure. So in the words of Mario, "Here we go!"
PS: Thanks goes out to my brothers Michael and Stephen for helping me express this. And by that I mean, minimizing the brain vomit which quickly ensued upon first showing them this page.