Abstract for “Divine Presence and Epistemic Trust”

In an effort to understand the author’s own and others’ experiences of divine presence, this paper traces two traditions in epistemology.  The dominant modern tradition, the Epistemiology of Doubt, is contrasted with a less noticed alternative, the Epistemiology of Trust.  Descartes, Hume, Kant, and most contemporary epistemology exemplify the former; Aristotle, Aquinas, and a handful of modern thinkers such as Thomas Reid, Franz Brentano, G. E. Moore and Wittgenstein provide insights into the alternative.  While Doubt seeks to minimize error, Trust seeks to maximize truth.  Doubt regards the mind as closed off from the world; Trust regards the mind as essentially open and attuned to the world.  Doubt asks whether knowledge is possible; Trust asks how knowledge comes about.  A discussion of Moses’s encounter with the burning bush provides an example of how to apply an Epistemiology of Trust to the question of divine presence.  In the end, the issue is not just conceptual but existential.

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