Apologetics to the Glory of God

An Informal Introduction to Covenantal Apologetics: Part 21 – Conceptual map and the external world.

By C.L. Bolt

In part 20 we learned that there is a disconnect between the subject and object or at any rate that there is no reason for the subject to think that there exists any connection at all between self and the objects of knowledge. The external world, in other words, cannot even be known when we begin an epistemology with ourselves.

We are assuming here for the sake of argument that the subject has decided to start with self in attempting to think about and know the world. We are assuming as well that the subject has gathered an indefinite number of concepts in her mind which she believes represent the external world. These concepts are arranged with one another to form a sort of picture of the world. This picture helps the individual get around in the world, or so she thinks. We might call this a conceptual map or scheme.

Even if the subject of knowledge is able to create an entire “map” of concepts in her mind, there is no real guarantee that it maps onto the external world. A conceptual map of the world in the mind does not at all guarantee that the map actually matches the world and describes it as it really is. How does the non-Christian know that her conceptual map matches the external world? How does she know that there even is an external world? The non-Christian cannot step outside of the self. There is then no real way to determine or measure whether or not the conceptual scheme of the subject accurately describes the external world at all, and this is assuming that there even is such a thing as the external world.

The non-Christian simply cannot know the objects of knowledge. The non-Christian, starting with the self, cannot get to the object of knowledge. There is no known connection between the subject and object of knowledge. Arguments for knowing objects which start from the subject will end with the subject. Further, there does not appear to be any way on this approach to knowledge to get outside of the self as far as cognitive and sensory tools go in order to make judgments concerning the cognitive or sensory tools.

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