Reason, Clark insists, is rooted in faith. He argues as follows: Relativists, skeptics, and pragmatists claim we can’t reach “Truth-in-fact.” We can never know what is actually the case. Some say we don’t need to. Such denials are self-refuting. Is “truth is relative” a relative truth? Can we know that “we cannot know”? Should we accept “truth is what works” only because it works? We cannot avoid the question, “Are these claims truth-in-fact?” Insofar as they dodge that question, relativism, skepticism, and pragmatism don’t solve the problem of knowledge. On the contrary, they abandon the quest for knowledge. They’re epistemologies of despair.
To reason at all, we need assurance that we can know Truth-in-fact, but where does that assurance come from? It isn’t an axiom of logic or an inference from experience. Clark concludes thought can’t get off the ground unless we “believe that if we seek the truth in accordance with certain standing assumptions about probability, about what sort of world this is, we shall be rewarded.” Rational inquiry depends on faith that the world is susceptible to rational inquiry. To be reasonable, reason must be founded on something other than reason.
Concern for the world is a function of love. Clark finds inspiration in Franciscan spirituality, which “is founded . . . on a strong awareness of the inwardness of things.” Franciscans aren’t practical in that they don’t look for ways to bend the world to their own purposes. Their delight in creation is like falling in love. “The love experienced for all created things,” Clark suggests, “even in their weak and fallen state, even when the broken reflections of the glory cannot now be pieced together, is the only sure basis from which to care for the world.”
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