Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Terminology Tuesday: Foundationalism

Foundationalism: A term referring to any theory of knowledge that looks for a starting point or “foundation” on which to build knowledge. This foundation may take the form of an indisputable proposition or set of propositions on which knowledge can be constructed through the use of logical reasoning from the first propositions. Historically, René Descartes is credited with being one of the greatest foundationalist philosophers. Descartes begins his whole system of knowledge by affirming the now-famous dictum cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am). Alternatively, some foundationalists (e.g., Friedrich Schleiermacher) have sought to construct knowledge on the basis of some supposedly universal human experience.1

1. Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 53.