The Search For Truth — Experientialism and Pragmatism

incarnational_apologetics_JR_Miller-120x120To build an Incarnational Apologetic capable of reaching the post-modern person, it is important to understand four basic epistemologies.

  1. Rationalism
  2. Agnosticism
  3. Experientialism
  4. Pragmatism

The first two have already been covered in my previous posts, in this video-post I want to define both Experientialism & Pragmatism.

What is Experientialism?

Experientialism is a philosophy that accepts experience is the final court of appeal. The experience may be unique or general, private or social, but it is always the self-attesting character of experience that verifies the truthfulness of any claim.

The key thinkers covered in the following video are:

  1. Immanuel Kant (1727-1804): Listen to the voice within you for knowledge!
  2. G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831): Reality is constantly changing with the flow of history and history resolves contradictions (Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis).
  3. Karl Marx (1818-1883): A Prussian-German philosopher, not happy to interpret the world, turned political-revolutionary; seeking to change the world.
  4. Friedrich E.D. Schleiermacher(1768-1834): “The Father of Modern Theology” who believed that inner “feelings” are the guide to religious truth = “Listen to your heart”
  5. Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855): Meaning comes only when the individual makes a non-rational “Leap of Faith”
  6. Rudolf Otto (1869–1937): The mystery of the Holy can be experienced but not really expressed.
  7. Karl Jaspers (1883-1969): Any attempt to institutionalize meaning destroys meaning. Seek the non-rational “final experience” to give meaning to life. 
  8. Maartin Heidegger (1889-1976): Authentication of faith comes from feeling over rational thought.
  9. Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980): “Why can’t we all just love the Lord?” BUT… what is the meaning of “love”? What is the meaning of “Lord”? Let your feelings decide what these words mean!

Ultimately, the significance of the experiential epistimoogy is that it reinforces the common idea that all religious truth is religious experienc

What is Pragmatism?

Pragmatism is the ideal that a person cannot think or even feel truth, but can only discover it by attempting to live it. Truth is not what is consistent or what is empirically adequate but what is exponentially workable.

One of the key thinkers who espoused pragamstism was Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914) , considered “The Father of Pragmatism”.  Pierce taught that meaning is found in what is both practical and what consistently works.

Discover some other important conclusions about Experientialism and Pragmatism by watching the video below.

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DISCLAIMER: Blog entries made by individual authors reflect the views of the author and not necessarily the view of other CAA authors, or the official position of the group at large.
About Dr. J.R. Miller

Dr. J.R. Miller is an adjunct professor living in San Diego, California with his wife and three sons. Joe has a diverse educational background; B.A.E from Pennsylvania State University, M.Div. from Oral Roberts University, and D.Min. from Biola University. He is an author of 7 books, an avid blogger at www.MoreThanCake.org, & host of a weekly radio show at www.ChristianLeadershipRadio.com.