Theism and Thought

  • Arthur James Balfour
1922 to 1923
University of Glasgow

Following the warm and enthusiastic reception of his first course of Gifford Lectures, Balfour was asked to give a second course some nine years later, following the end of the First World War, entitled Theism and Thought. The lectures which make up the majority of the volume Theism and Thought complete the project begun in his first course (published in the volume Theism and Humanism in 1914), by buttressing his initial argument with a thorough defence of common sense philosophy and the reliability of sense perception.

Personal Knowledge

  • Michael Polanyi
1951 to 1952
University of Aberdeen

Personal Knowledge is a treatise on the nature and justification of scientific knowledge. Ultimately, it is designed to show that complete objectivity in the exact sciences is delusion and, ‘in fact’, a false ideal with crippling consequences. We inevitably see the universe from a personal point of view and this, in turn, is inevitably shaped by our human interactions. Attempts to eliminate the personal perspective from our view of the world lead to absurdity. ‘Personal knowledge’ inescapably involves the epistemic standpoint of the investigator. It is an intellectual commitment and, however hazardous, ultimately tends to liberate. To count as knowledge, it must be possible for affirmations to be false. However, items of knowledge are not arbitrary, but rather responsible and intelligent commitments based on the investigator’s epistemic standpoint, skills and human interactions.

Jon Cameron
University of Aberdeen
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