Revelation within the Epistemology of George Trumbull Ladd.


Can man know the Absolute ? Are Knowledge and Abso-
luteness terms which can dwell together in unity, or are they
mutually exclusive and contradictory ? Let us change the
character of the question : May we with data of knowledge
frame the conception of that Reality on which all dependent
and relative beings, both minds and things, depend for their
existence, and which serves as the Ground of all relations and
of all changes, but is itself destroyed or diminished by none ;
and will human cognitive faculty bear witness to the satis-
factoriness and to the validity of such a conception ? The
theory of knowledge, at least, does not render necessary a
negative answer to these questions. On the contrary, it
favors and even demands a positive answer. It also suggests
what that answer shall be.

The problem of knowledge was attempted at the beginning
in a wholly presuppositionless and critical way. The dis-
cussion of the problem closes with the recognition of a pre-
supposition, which has been found lying underneath all the
earlier analysis, and which comes to the surface and to the
front, as the work of epistemology is concluded. Man knows
Reality because Reality is of his own kinship. In knowledge,
will answers to will and mind to mind. Yes ; there are even
indications in the very nature of cognition that what ethics
and religion crave to discover is true ; and that heart speaks
to heart a voice whose promises are often obscure, but never
wholly false. Knowledge is indeed relative ; but it is itself
the establishment of a relation between the Revealer, the
Absolute Self, and the Self to whom the revelation comes.

[End of book.]

Source: Ladd, George Trumbull. “Knowledge and the Absolute”. Philosophy of Knowledge: An Inquiry Into the Nature, Limits, and Validity of Human Cognitive Faculty. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1897. 608-609. Print.

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