Epistemology Critical Review of Jay Wood Term Paper

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Critical Review of Jay Wood's "Epistemology: Becoming Intellectually Virtuous."

In his work Epistemology: Becoming Intellectually Virtuous Jay Wood embarks on a journey to discover what it means to know something. In the review below we explore the importance of living an intellectually superior life, which ultimately Wood describes as a life that involves selecting the right things to care about and paying attention to ones emotions and virtues, which ultimately ensure proper cognitive functioning. These ideas are applied to a Christian counseling viewpoint for each of the chapters reviewed in Wood's book. Wood acknowledges the virtue of believing in God and using this belief as a compass if you will toward discovering the truth in all matters.

Book Review

Chapter 1

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In Chapter 1 Wood explores when epistemological question arise, the nature of epistemology and pursuit of intellectual virtues, Christian and intellectual virtues and the pursuit of intellectual virtues. Wood focuses on qualities including wisdom, understanding and love of the truth in this chapter, suggesting that these qualities are anchored in the minds of those who succeed in their intellectual endeavors. Embracing such virtues according to Wood will result in ones ability to lead an exceptional life. Epistemological issues arise when we take the time to question where our beliefs come from and what are beliefs are. Any time we criticize a belief or thought we fall into an epistemological mindset. Causes we devote ourselves to according to Wood force us to examine epistemological questions.

Reflections on Chapter 1

TOPIC: Term Paper on Epistemology Critical Review of Jay Wood's "Epistemology: Assignment

This chapter is important to Christian counselors as it causes them to question their faith and consider whether their faith is "intellectually defensible" as Wood would suggest. Many epistemological questions arise when one takes a Christian vantage point. Much of society at large holds true a secular belief or attitude, thus many claims arising from Christian beliefs are subject to criticisms that can cause one to doubt their chosen path. However a Christian vantage point also enables greater motivation in my personal opinion to conduct oneself in a manner that is more motivating and positive, as wood would confirm. Wood encourages viewing epistemology from a virtue perspective, as this is a more Christian way to approach such questions.

Chapter 2

In chapter 2 the reader is called upon to explore the varying types of intellectual virtue, structure of intellectual virtues and the nature of epistemology, virtue and responsibility. Wood suggests that people acquire beliefs, work to maintain them, communicate our views and then apply our beliefs to help us solve problems and address intellectual situations. When pursued well this feat involves people calling on their intellectual virtues. Wood goes on to suggest that our intellectual traits may play a role in our intellectual lives and may vary depending on the circumstances people are presented with day-to-day. Virtues according to Wood are "well-anchored" and abide by our personalities and dispositions. When utilized positively they may enable interpretive sensitivity, "prudence" and a studious course of action as Wood descries.

Reflections on Chapter 2

Wood's theories can be applied to a Christian counselor in many ways. Wood suggests that we make judgments in a compassionate manner by concerning ourselves with removing or relieving the suffering of others. He suggests that if compassionate a person will act appropriate to alleviate the need or suffering another person experiences. This from a counselor's vantage point according to Wood's theories may require careful deliberation on the situation but also utilization of any skills and knowledge a person has necessary that will enable them to act "in accordance with virtue."

Someone with virtuosity would by very nature be able to use consoling words and offer patient the appropriate types of assistance regardless of their situation. A Christian must consider virtues dispositional properties, or properties that they posses regardless of whether they are acting virtuously at any given time or another. A counselor may in some cases consider a patient a morally weak person, or someone suffering from weakness of will. This may enable identification of the "path of virtue" as Wood describes it but the patient may still lack the motivation they need to develop and act virtuously in the future. In this case the counselor must act as the virtuous person helping build positive motivation and inclination rather than negative ones.

Chapter 3

Wood discusses some specific intellectual virtues in Chapter 3 including wisdom and folly, studiousness, vicious curiosity, intellectual honesty and dishonesty. He also review modern and contemporary epistemological concerns. Wood suggests that some virtues are narrow in scope and thus can only be applied to limited circumstances. These include inquisitiveness and teachable ness according to Wood, which apply more to knowledge than anything else. Wood confirms that people have a natural desire to be inquisitive for example and our tendency to seek truth and avoid error.

Reflections Chapter 3

Perhaps the most relevant part of this Chapter I extracted is the notion that we must monitor our intentions when seeking knowledge. From a Christian perspective, a counselor will constantly seek knowledge and employ various methods to extract knowledge from people. According to Wood we must evaluate our intellectual pursuits to ensure they are virtuous, be aware of how we employ our mental "powers" to avoid serving as Wood describes "pernicious ends." We must also be sure we evaluate the importance according to Wood of any and all truths we do obtain so they are utilized wisely. This chapter is very insightful and encourages morality and virtue in all actions.

Chapter 4

Wood describes the concept of foundationalism in this chapter, including the rudiments of, strong foundationalism and problems associated with strong foundationalism. Foundationalism according to Wood is nothing more than the need we hall have to review and restructure our cognitive perceptions, beliefs and relations, a process referred to as epistemic justification. To increase ones chances of gaining truth and being justified or intellectually virtuous according to the author then individuals must manage their beliefs. This is accomplished by conscious evaluation and restructuring of beliefs to make things clear and to reveal insights into our lives.

Reflections Chapter 4

Here Wood makes clear to me the need to carefully review and recommend changes that are positive in nature. Identification of unclear or illogical thought patterns and the rationale behind them is vital to forming and shaping beliefs and interactions. Wood suggests that ideal ordering of cognitive perceptions is possible with foundationalism. The idea is very relevant, suggesting that without period evaluation of ones morals, beliefs, actions and environment true virtue or justification of ones epistemological beliefs is not possible. Just as a home or office many need periodic seasonal cleanings, so too do our cognitive belief systems.

Chapter 5

In this chapter Wood describes the idea of epistemic justification, covering evidentialism, coherentism and Keith Lehrer's coherence theory. Wood suggests that people fail to orient themselves correctly toward the truth by believing that their destiny is pre-arranged or that there are a number of factors that are out of control with respect to their moral or aesthetic beliefs. Wood encourages discovery of the sources of justification for ones beliefs. Lehrer's theory of coherence seems to suggest that personal justification is determined by the individual who must satisfy their need for beliefs to be rationally acceptable abased solely on their web of experiences in life. Being justified in ones beliefs according to this idea does not mean determining how ones beliefs fit with everyone else.

Reflections Chapter 5

As Wood points out it is vital that we work toward discovering true belief, and obtaining true belief requires that we are able to justify our beliefs. Support may be logical or based on evidentialism, the idea that one must have evidence to support ones belief. AT first glance this may challenge the Christian spirit, who often holds faith but lacks the concrete evidence necessary to justify ones beliefs and practices. However as Wood points out the notion of evidence is vague and somewhat open to interpretation.

More applicable seems the idea of coherence, that we adapt and shape our network of beliefs as we experience life. OF particularly interest here is Lehrer's theory which suggests that a Christian counselor may encourage one to justify one's beliefs to him or herself but not to others, because ones unique set of beliefs ultimately will decide whether a person is worthy or not of the truths and positive aspects of life. This point is very powerful and perhaps the most interesting of this chapter.

Chapter 6

In Chapter 6 Wood discusses the idea of reliabilism, objections to this idea and virtue epistemology and the internalism externalism debate. Reliabilism according to Wood shifts thinking about justification so instead of looking at justification from a subjective standpoint or first person objective one looks at it as an outside party or as a third person. Justification in this case then will depend on whether someone acquires a belief in a way that makes it most likely that they actually gained the truth.

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