Fundamentalism Common Sense
Read Part 1 and Part 2.
By definition, Fundamentalism does not concern itself with the whole counsel of God. As the name implies, it concerns itself with fundamentals, i.e., with those matters that are essential to the bare existence of Christianity. Fundamentalists may, and many Fundamentalists actually do, go beyond this limited concern. When they do so, however, they are no longer acting merely as Fundamentalists, but as Fundamentalists who also happen to be something else.
On one hand, as an actual, historical movement, Fundamentalism has often tended to settle for an abbreviated form of Christianity. Though clear exceptions exist, it has often sacrificed doctrinal breadth and detail. On the other hand, Fundamentalism has also tended to add elements that are not necessary to any form of biblical Christianity. Over the next few essays, I wish to explore three of these additions: Common Sense Realism, populism, and sentimentalism.
Common Sense Realism was a reaction to and development of Enlightenment philosophy. It was articulated by Thomas Reid of Aberdeen (later Glasgow) and sold to the philosophical world by Dugald Stewart of Edinburgh. A relatively late development, Common Sense Realism represented an attempt to circumvent several philosophical impasses. Continental rationalism had never been able to move convincingly beyond solipsism. British empiricism had led to the subjective idealism of Berkeley and the skepticism of Hume.
Reid hoped to get past these problems by grounding knowledge in a core of self-evident common sense. Where earlier thinkers had distinguished appearance from reality, Reid posited that people perceive reality directly. Normally, perceptions can be relied upon as accurate and trustworthy. For Common Sense Realism, reality is transparently available to the perceiving subject. Read more about Fundamentalism: Whence? Where? Whither? Part 3