Gordon Clark: The Augustinian

Check out this excellent study by Marco Barone, “Gordon H. Clark and Augustine of Hippo: An Overviewclark and dog.” I especially enjoyed this summary of Clark’s theory of knowledge in relation to secondary causes (the things which most people fixate):

“…one central point for Clark is that earthly pedagogical means are only secondary causes or occasional causes that God decreed to use in order to impart immediate knowledge. In this sense, every truth that we see, we see it in God. Clark builds on Augustine’s and Malebranche’s insights in order to develop his epistemological occasionalism according to which God is the ultimate cause of knowledge. Neither Malebranche[60] nor Clark[61]had any particular objection to the expression “secondary causes,” as long as it is made clear that these causes do not have any efficient power in themselves and that the ultimate and only effective cause of knowledge is God which immediately works through them. With “immediately,” our thinkers do not mean “right now,” but they mean without the mediation of a supposed efficient cause.”

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One Comment on “Gordon Clark: The Augustinian”

  1. David Says:

    Hello again Sean. I hope your thanksgiving was a happy one with family.

    Ah yes, a wonderful reminder of why Clark and Augustine are perhaps the greatest thinkers in history. In line with this, I was wondering if I could get your opinion on an idea I had. I was wondering if you would agree that all philosophies fall somewhere on a scale between four extremes. One axis is the extreme between supernaturalism and secularism and the other axis is the extreme between barbarism and sophistication (read: wimpy ivory tower intellectualism). Clark and Augustine seem to have found the happy medium between all four: Scripture provides the supernatural absolutes that give us truth and knowledge but leaves us to figure out what works materially. Likewise, Scripture fosters understanding and civilization but does not forward a utopia until all things are remade.

    The world Christ entered seemed to have been drowning in barbaric supernaturalism (e.g. the Greeks only cared about what rituals would get the crops to grow and any who question Caesar would die). The medieval church only further propagated this extreme. Once the reformation restored the balance and brought blessings, man grew spoiled on such blessings and secular sophistication took over (i.e. the enlightenment which hoped that science would end all hardship and give us everything we want). Once the reign of terror ended, Romanticism gave us supernatural sophistication (often influenced by Indian mystics) where people hoped emotions, feeling, and nonsensical pantheism would make everything better. But once the hardship of life hits (read: the world wars), people seem to have fallen into barbaric secularism (read: Marxism and postmodernism) where people are driven by a blind frenzy to have anything they want from the government and kill any who would even speak out against such.


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