The Sense Of Perception : William P. Alston

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William P. Alston, a professor of philosophy at Syracuse University, discusses in his essay “Perceiving God” the sense of perception: “the experience, or… the perception, of God plays an epistemic role with respect to beliefs about the physical world” (Alston 431). Alston continues to justify his position “that the very considerable incidence of putative perception of God creates a certain initial presumption that these experiences are what they seem to be and that something can thereby be learned about God” (Alston 432). Alston’s argument is that the perception of God is enough to justify your belief that He exists because of the similarity between your senses and how you perceive God (431-432). Alston’s argument is both fideistic (relying on faith and not reason) and inductive. In his thesis, he alludes to the fact that a person must have an experience first before they can trust the perception. The experience, which would normally be a religious experience, must occur before the faith in God’s existence comes about. It is this experience that changes a person’s point of view. This is an illustration of Existentialism. It is based on experience from oneself. It is also known as a “leap of faith.” The rest of Alston’s arguments are structured around objections in the form of analogies (431-437). Some examples of objections that Alston uses are compelling. Objections I and III are both double standards. One set of guidelines may apply to one thing, but not to the other. For example, a leather recliner in the room is black. A person senses allow this knowledge. It does not have to be justified or explained. If someone acknowledges that they have had an “experience” of God with their senses, they must prove this. So sensing that th... ... middle of paper ... ...are unrealistic requirements for people that have a religious experience: I have sought to show that various plausible-sounding objections to this position depend on the use of a double standard or reflect arbitrary epistemic chauvinism. They involve subjecting RE to inappropriate standards. Once we appreciate these points, we can see the strength of the case for RE as one more epistemically autonomous practice of belief formation and source of justification (Alston 437). There is no reason to doubt the senses. If a person cannot believe what their senses are telling them, they would continually doubt their perceptual experience. We have continual experiences through the senses, and they are interpreted with standard interpretations. Empirical evidence from our senses should be enough to justify a religious experience. It’s a double standard that should be changed.

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