Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
CAJ 3:2 (Fall 2004) p. 79
Naming the Elephant: Worldview as a Concept. James W. Sire. InterVarsity Press, 2004. 163 pp., $14.00, ISBN 0–8308-2779-X.
James W. Sire’s new book, Naming the Elephant, is an almost interesting effort to rethink his notion of world view. It is written from a presuppositionalist perspective that is reminiscent of Francis Schaeffer.
It is slightly above a beginner’s level and would be of little interest to students who have more than a cursory understanding of apologetics and philosophy.
His philosophical observations involve common misconceptions, and the influence of Francis Schaeffer is apparent in his several misrepresentations of Thomas Aquinas. Sire also involves himself in several self-referential problems. Discussing the seven basic world view questions he says, “If we feel the answers are too obvious to consider, then we have a worldview but have no idea that many others do not share it. We should realize that we live in a pluralistic world. What is obvious to us may be ‘a lie from hell’ to our neighbor next door. If we do not recognize that, we are certainly naive and provincial, and we have much to learn about living in today’s world.”1 In other words, this is obvious to Sire, which means he must be naive and provincial. However, what is obvious to Sire may be “a lie from hell” to his neighbor. Again Sire asserts, “Even though we have some reason, or even many reasons, for
CAJ 3:2 (Fall 2004) p. 80
choosing one or the other, our experience in dialogue with others shows us that we cannot prove our worldview beyond the shadow of a doubt.”2 Can Sire prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that our world views cannot be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt?
Sire’s lack of advanced understanding of philosophical issues is evidenced in the following statement about aesthetics: “As an English literature teacher who had written his dissertation on a topic involving aesthetics, I knew from the first that I had omitted one world view question: What is the beautiful? I left the question unasked and unanswered for two reasons. First, it is almost impossible to answer simply or clearly, let alone definitively, even within an otherwise well-developed worldview. Second, for most people, aesthetics is not a conscious existential concern.”3 Sire assumes that because he cannot answer the question it must be unanswerable. Sire is simply not acquainted with modern Thomistic philosophy that sets forth a clear and definitive exposition of the beautiful.
Sire also makes errors of b...
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