A Metaphysical Basis for Eleonore Stump’s Narrative Defense

A Metaphysical Basis for Eleonore Stump’s Narrative Defense

There is an feature of story and narrative that informs but is yet, largely, undescribable. This paper seeks to find a metaphysical basis for this feature.

This paper was written during the PhD seminar “The Problem of Evil” (2023) at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, but it was not formally presented.



Christianity is a faith built on fact. The apostle Paul, when discussing the logical implications of anything other than Jesus’ physical, historical resurrection, writes, if such were not so, then “we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15:19b).

Simultaneously many in the world today have these facts plainly in front of them, yet so many still reject the truth. Often called the problem of evil, some skeptics compare the all-good, all-powerful Christian God of the Bible with the copious evil in the world and insist that one of these propositions must be false. For centuries, apologists have presented responses: ways of harmonizing the existence of God and evil in the actual world (theodicies), or explanations that need only be true in some world (defenses).[1]

In Wandering in Darkness,[2] Eleonore Stump provides an important defense, specifically addressing the needs of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. However, there is an epistemic gap in her defense, a portion of which she readily admits cannot be explained. My proposal is that it is not merely that she cannot explain it, but that this portion of her defense cannot be explained at all because it falls into the category of ineffable knowledge.

The purpose of this paper is to appeal to metaphysics as a basis for the ineffable knowledge integral to Stump’s defense, to show that (1) her epistemic gap is reasonable and (2) this epistemic gap does not lead to a metaphysical gap. The methodology will come primarily from Silvia Jonas’ work, Ineffability and its Metaphysics.[3] I will first look at the relevant portions of Stump’s defense, then I will review Jonas’ presentation of ineffable knowledge, and finally, I will look at how the two work together.

I. Eleonore Stump’s Defense

Eleonore Stump’s defense is an adaptation of Thomas Aquinas’ theodicy. In Wandering, her goal is not to explain his theodicy, but to build her own defense on top of his existing work. I will focus on three key areas of her defense in this section: the role of second-person relationships, the need for narrative, and the ineffable knowledge a narrative approach brings.

The Preliminary Second-Person Relationship

Stump’s thesis is to unfold “a part of Aquinas’s account that he himself leaves undeveloped—namely, the nature of the union desired in love,” or, more specifically, “the suffering stemming from the loss of the desires of a person’s heart.”[4] She looks at four points within his theodicy. Each of these is a leg supporting her defense, with the central focus being the need and value of second-person relationships. First, she looks at Aquinas’ belief that the proper object of our love is God. However, due to divine simplicity,[5] this also extends to the love of those bearing his image.[6] And so it is true, as John Donne once wrote, “no man is an island.” A healthy view of life requires healthy relationships to view it with. This leads to two related desires: the desire for the good of the beloved and the desire for union with the beloved.[7] This works for both our relationship with God and our relationships with others.

Legs two through four flow out of the first. The second leg is that God allows evil so that, for his beloved, some good can come. Through their suffering, “God gives to each of the protagonists [in her sample narratives] something that these sufferers are willing to trade their suffering to receive, once they understand the nature of what they are being given.”[8] The third leg is a conclusion of the second. During the resulting hard times, God’s beloved (people) can draw closer to God than they would have been able to otherwise.[9]

The fourth is a point that requires a little bit more explanation: God allows situations that nudge his people to wantto draw near to him (and others). The key idea here is that is often necessary due to a “willed loneliness” on the part of people.[10] “Great moral wrongdoing,” Stump writes, “has the effect of fragmenting the wrongdoer’s psyche, and those who are internally divided against themselves in moral evil are also isolated from others.”[11] This is the “willed loneliness.” Then, leaning on Marilyn McCord Adams, Stump applies “the distinction between shame [internal] and guilt [external] as a function of the difference between the two desires of love,”[12] that is a desire to put oneself first or to put others/God first. All of this works together to come back to the place and value of second-person relationships.

The Need for Narrative

Given the sensitive nature of the topic of suffering and real-world pain, and while recognizing both the good (clear and focused) and bad (“sterile” and “focusing on less”) sides of analytic philosophy, Stump chooses “to marry it to the study of narrative” to “preserve [analytic philosophy’s] characteristic excellence.”[13] She does this by looking at four different biblical stories: Job, Sampson, Abraham, and Mary of Bethany.

An important framework relevant to this paper are two different approaches to knowledge Stump uses, what she calls the “Franciscan” and the “Dominican” approaches. The Franciscan approach is more akin to knowledge-how, which uses familiarity with stories to create types to relate to. A daily example of knowledge-how would be knowing how to tie your shoes. You can instruct someone else on the steps to produce the same result (a propositional knowledge-that), but the rest of the knowledge required to tie your shoes is itself ineffable (more on this below). A literary example of knowledge-how is the type of person represented by Shakespeare’s protagonist in Hamlet.[14] The other approach, the Dominican, represents knowledge-that. Knowledge-that is propositional or descriptive (including abstract properties), and it is often used in the discipline of analytic philosophy. The description of the color purple, being the color that falls between blue and red as well as the color often associated with amethyst crystals, is an example of knowledge-that. Knowledge-that still may not communicate exactly what purple is, but it can describe and point one to the color purple. Stump does not argue for one form of knowledge over the other, but rather seeks to show how they are both necessary.[15]

Her contribution depends on second-person accounts (narratives), where “Franciscan knowledge [knowledge-how] communicated in a second-person experience is shareable with someone who was not part of the second-person experience in question.”[16] The medium she is referring to is narrative. And this, ultimately, is what bridges the ineffability gap.

Ineffable Knowledge in Narrative

In the process of expanding Aquinas’ theodicy, she downgrades it to a defense, requiring it only to be internally consistent. She does not actually explain why she does this, but I believe it has to do with the ineffable limits of her using stories or narrative (knowledge-how) to communicate propositions (knowledge-that). While she uses four biblical stories, which are presumably true, the same approach can be applied to any story. But not all stories need to be true to be helpful.[17] For Stump, narrative becomes the primary medium for a person to communicate the ineffable knowledge gained from a second-person account, to a third party.

Connecting Narrative to Real Experiences

Since knowledge-how is not reducible to knowledge-that, [18] Stump finds it necessary to uses the rigor of the Dominican approach (narrative) to describe the insights from the Franciscan type of knowledge. But “second-person experiences cannot be reduced to first-person or third-person experiences without remainder.”[19] Which is to say, it is not a one-to-one conversion. This presents a problem: How then can the specifics of knowledge-how then be communicated accurately? Stump partially answers this question, by using narrative as the medium of communication. Here is where she leans heavily on the biblical stories of Job and the others. But what exactly is being communicated with these stories? For this, Stump admits that while “these narratively shared experiences can inform in subtle ways our intuitions and judgments, just as real-life experiences do . . . I cannot explain exactly what way that is.”[20] Stump rests on the power of the narrative to communicate the ineffable lessons contained in the stories. And, in that regard, her defense is successful. The purpose of this paper is to connect what Stump cannot explain (the ineffable portion) with Silva Jonas’ work on ineffable knowledge, to show that Stump’s lack of ability to propositionally explain what exactly stories are communicating is not a weakness but has a metaphysical basis.

II. A Metaphysical Basis of Ineffable Knowledge

In Ineffability and its Metaphysic, Jonas’ thesis is to “defend the idea that ineffable insights are best understood in terms of a particular kind of non-propositional knowledge and provide a framework for so understanding them.”[21] She focuses on three contexts where ineffable insights show up: aesthetic (contemplating a work of art), religious (communicating your spiritual experiences or your own personal “knowledge of God”), and philosophical (how to “accommodate subjectivity, mind, or individuality”).[22] My concern here is less about her specific categories and more about her metaphysical basis of ineffable knowledge on the whole. Preliminarily, it should be noted, Jonas is not concerned with the trivially ineffable (something such as, “I can’t remember his name at the moment”) but rather what is essentially ineffable.[23]

In her book she examines four different categories of ineffability: objects, propositions, content, and knowledge. She rejects the first three as not qualifying as essentially ineffable,[24] while, for the fourth she provides a positive metaphysical case. It is this fourth category (ineffable knowledge) that will be applied in this paper to Stump’s defense. Jonas gives a “systematic examination” of ineffable knowledge, to show that “ineffable knowledge can thus be understood as knowledge how to acquire and process knowledge.”[25] All of this leads to “Self-acquaintance” and how it “explains our paradigmatic cases of philosophically intriguing ineffability, as found in aesthetic, religious, and philosophical contexts.”[26]

Ineffable Knowledge

Jonas divides ineffable knowledge into four categories: knowledge-how, logical knowledge, indexical knowledge, and phenomenal knowledge. For knowledge-how Jonas contrasts Gilbert Ryle’s case for knowledge-how as a separate non-propositional category from knowledge-that, against Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson’s view that the former can be collapsed into the latter. The key problem with Stanley/Williamson’s view, as Jonas points out, is that they require a “practical mode of presentation,” which is to say, some kind of knowledge-how by another name.[27] As Jonas notes, they “fail to explain away what strikes us as ineffable in knowledge-how ascriptions.”[28] For the ineffability of logical knowledge, Jonas looks at Gottlob Frege’s claim that “it is not true that there are different kinds of laws of thought to suit the different kinds of objections thought about.”[29] In other words, logical knowledge as Jonas has presented is not a separate metaphysical category. Jonas comments: “Frege’s goal is to create a system of formal logic that will make this mode of thinking visible.”[30] Jonas looks systematically at Frege’s argument, pointing out that Frege, like all of us, “presuppose an epistemic foundation, or basis, of our logical thinking.”[31] In other words, to actually do logic presupposes a kind of ineffable knowledge, which Jonas admits makes discussing a “difficult enterprise . . . to describe in language.”[32]

Next, she looks at indexical knowledge. Indexical knowledge is dependent on its context. Using Jonas’ example, if both Peter and Paul both say the linguistically identical statements: “I am hungry,” it is the context (that is, Peter’s utterance and then Paul’s utterance) which tell us the different meanings. As such, “indexical expressions without context are empty terms.”[33] She then uses John Perry’s illustration of following a trail of sugar in the supermarket, looking for its source, going round and round, until it dawned on him that he was the source. “This suggests that,” notes Jonas, “in addition to all the ‘objective’ facts out there, includes all the facts about [Perry and his illustration] there is a special kind of knowledge about one’s Self as such, that is, about what it means to be a subject from the subjective point of view.[34]This kind of knowledge, she concludes, cannot be deduced from physical-world facts and so is ineffable.[35]

Finally, Jonas turns to phenomenal knowledge. This may be the most controversial of all four.[36] The best place to begin is with Frank Jackson’s original position on the Knowledge Argument.[37] He posits a hypothetical person, Mary, who has only ever known a black and white world. In this black and white world, she’s studied and learned all there is to know about color, only she has never seen it directly. One day, then, Mary sees the color red for the first time. The primary question is: Does that count as additional knowledge? Or has she simply “experienced” or “acquired the ability [of seeing]” the color red?[38] If the latter, then (potentially) phenomenal knowledge is not necessarily something separate from a form of propositional knowledge-that. If the former is true, however, then (again, potentially) phenomenal knowledge may be considered a separate class of knowledge. For Jonas, the way forward comes in two parts. The first is to see phenomenal knowledge in conjunction with (but not identical to) indexical knowledge. This allows us to “explain Mary’s epistemic gap” without creating a “nonphysical ontology.”[39] Consider the three propositions facing Mary upon seeing the color red for the first time (where R is the phenomenal experience of seeing red):

  1. Seeing red is thisR. (purely demonstrative)
  2. ThisR is R. (demonstrative-qualitative identity statement)
  3. Seeing red is R. (purely qualitative)[40]

“The crucial thought is the second one,” writes Jonas. This is what “expresses the newly gained knowledge” that allows the inference to proposition (3). But regarding indexical knowledge, epistemic gaps are subjective, not objective. However, this is not so for phenomenal knowledge. Whatever ignorance Mary had before seeing red remains, objectively, for both Mary and any third-party observer. As Jonas concludes, “the epistemic gap between the physical and the phenomenal domains does not close.”[41] So like indexical knowledge, phenomenal knowledge is not propositional. But, at the same time, phenomenal knowledge is also not identical to indexical knowledge.

Jonas’ second approach involves seeing phenomenal knowledge in terms of acquaintance. Leibniz and Russell both argue for a form of “direct acquaintance” with the world around us.[42] But, according to Ernest Sosa, there is a critical difference between being intellectually aware of something and being experientially aware, namely, that “one can be experientially aware of something without being intellectually aware of it, whereas the reverse does not hold.”[43]This leads to the conclusion that acquaintance is “epistemically more primitive” than intellectual awareness.[44]Acquaintance then explains the knowledge gained from phenomenal experience.

Self-Acquaintance and Jonas’ Five Claims

Of the four kinds of ineffable knowledge Jonas surveys, she uses the last two (indexical knowledge and phenomenal knowledge) to define Self-acquaintance,[45] which is the basis of her proposal. She writes that “if we already know that there is such a thing as the Self [that is, from indexical knowledge], and if we already know that we can get acquainted with all kinds of things [from phenomenal knowledge], then the possibility of Self-acquaintance suddenly seems very natural”[46] Ultimately, Self-acquaintance is the “irreducibly subjective” part of human life[47] that is both essentially ineffable and metaphysically reasonable.[48]

As a positive case for Self-acquaintance as ineffable knowledge, she presents five claims: existence, acquaintance, ineffability, importance, and metaphysics. The existence claim is merely making explicit “what is already implicitly contained in the concept of a self-ascription,” which is not to debate where one’s Self may reside, but simply that the Self exists.[49] The acquaintance claim states that “we can gain phenomenal knowledge of [the Self] by standing in an acquaintance relation to it.”[50] This is different than the propositional knowledge-that we may know about ourselves, rather

we are aware of ourselves as thinkers of particular thoughts, the havers of certain sense perceptions, the bearers of certain properties, etc. In this sense, our self-awareness is mediated through other things such as thoughts and perceptions, whereas in moments of Self-acquaintance, we become directly phenomenally acquainted with the Self.[51]

An example of this “direct phenomenal acquaintance” would be how I understand the emotions I have for autumn weather. No poem by Keats or Frost, no matter how moving they may be, can help me adequately get to that same feeling, just as could no film; to understand what autumn feels like, I simply have to experience it first-hand.

Ineffability is Jonas’ third claim. This is similar to acquaintance above.  The key here is to differentiate between describing something, such as the taste or smell of a food, and giving a full expression of all that is contained in that same taste or smell. To confuse the description and the expression, notes Jonas, would be a category mistake.[52] Fourth, the importance claim, which is that the Self (that is, each person’s Self) is inherently more interesting to that same individual. “The Self is the main reference point for all of our experiences with the world.”[53]

The fifth of Jonas’ five claims in support of Self-acquaintance is the Metaphysics claim. While all four claims support her thesis, it is the last, “the metaphysics of ineffability,” which is primary in explaining Self-acquaintance.[54]She frames her support by addressing three questions: First, How do we know that it is Self-acquaintance that is responsible for our “meaningful moments” and not something else? Per Jonas, we should combine what we have already established, “a way of making sense of those experiences that does not require postulating the existence of any obscure entities but rather explains everything that needs to be explained in terms of what is already there.”[55] From indexical knowledge we can find our (Self’s) place in the world, and from phenomenal knowledge we can access the world (including our own Self). From this, the step to Self-acquaintance becomes “very natural.”[56] This, she argues, is the simplest explanation and so preferred. The second question Jonas poses is: Why do we not usually recognize moments of Self-acquaintance as meaningful ineffable experiences? She responds to this in a few ways. These experiences are usually rare, and so we are simply unaccustomed to identifying them. Additionally, in these moments “our recognition is immediately blurred by a process of interpretation and association that sets in as soon as we are having such experiences.”[57] In some sense, this seems similar to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Her second answer to this question is that, simply put: there is no principle of verification for Self-acquaintance, effectively rendering the point moot. In the same way that we “can’t verify whether someone is really seeing red,” we should not be bothered by this lack of verification.[58] The third question she raises to defend her Metaphysics claim is one she does not answer: How is this view of ineffability relevant to historical characters like Plotinus, Schopenhauer, or Adorno? “The overarching principle that subsumes all cases of ineffable experiences under the general category of ineffable knowledge is that they are special cases of phenomenal knowledge, that is, special cases of knowledge by acquaintance.”[59]

Criticisms to Consider

Providing epistemic warrant for the ineffable knowledge found in Stump’s defense requires Jonas’ proposal about ineffable knowledge to hold up metaphysically. There are a few criticisms to consider. Guy Bennett-Hunter questions the effects Jonas’ proposal will have on the subject-object distinction — which Jonas appears to maintain — specifically, as it applies to Self-Acquaintance. Does this provide “a unique epistemic experience that shipwrecks the subject–object distinction”?[60] The core problem is that, within Self-Acquaintance, the object effectively becomes the subject. But I do not think this objection is quite right, because Self-acquaintance is not a kind of knowledge-that about one’s Self, rather, it is a form of perception that allows one to see the world. Keeping this distinction, I believe, avoids this objection.

Another objection is raised by Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson, that knowledge-how can be propositionally described as knowledge-that.[61] But the way they do this is to redefine knowledge-that, as Jonas comments, at high cost.[62] Stanley/Williamson write: “Perhaps there is a sense of ‘contemplating a proposition’ in which it refers to an action that is no more intentional than is the action of digesting food.”[63] By removing the “contemplating” aspect, they have expanded the definition of knowledge-that so precariously wide that it becomes questionable as to what it really means. Introducing the topic, Stanley/Williamson concede that many philosophers no longer question the existence of knowledge-how.[64] Perhaps this is one reason why.

III. A Metaphysical Basis for the Ineffability of Stump’s Defense

This final section will apply the above conclusions from Jonas’ work to a few key areas from Stump’s defense, namely the role of second-person relationships and the specific insights communicated through narrative.

The Role Second-Person Relationships

Jonas writes: “We can only know the phenomenal aspects of something by being acquainted with it, not by reflecting on it, or talking about it.”[65] One of the most famous treatments of the problem of evil is found in the book of Job. Yet, when we get to the end of the story — after Job has point-blank asked God why — and in one of the longest direct responses from God recorded in Scripture, God does not give Job an answer. At least, not in the propositional way a Westerner may expect. Instead, what God does give to him is himself. He reveals to Job (some of) his character. To the apologist looking for answers (or to the hurting soul, for that matter) such a response may seem disappointing on the surface. The point Stump makes in her treatment is that the knowledge-how communicated through second-person experiences is better than any list of reasons God could have communicated. But this approach is inherently problematic because this knowledge is essentially ineffable. It cannot be directly or propositionally shared.

Insights from Narrative

Narrative then becomes a medium for sharing second-person experiences. If “second-person experiences cannot be reduced to first-person or third-person experiences without remainder,” as Stump maintains. And if acquaintance (that is, from phenomenal and indexical knowledge) represents a class of knowledge fundamentally separate from knowledge-that (propositional knowledge), then it would make sense that a specific medium of communication is required (or at the very least, preferred). Narrative, I suggest, is that preferred medium for the ineffable knowledge of second-person experiences. I propose three reasons for this. First, narrative is structural. The beginning-middle-ending arrangement (with the implicit problem-solution-success format built into it) gives the listener/reader a framework to understand what is expected and when a resolution has (or has not) happened. Second, narrative provides a context. This allows characters to react, which then sets the tone for what is right and what is wrong. Any propositional message will always be found within a story’s world, and it is the story’s world that helps define the meaning of the propositional messages. And finally, narrative provides theme. This is the overall tone, directing the shape of the worldview of the story itself. Regardless of what a reader/listener’s personal worldview is, to step into a story is to take part in the worldview of the story.

Concluding Thoughts

 “If we think about the ineffability experienced in aesthetic and religious contexts as a matter of Self-acquaintance,” writes Jonas, “we understand that it is not the respective aesthetic or religious content that is responsible for the experience: it is an independent phenomenal experience acquainting us with our Selves that causes the experience of ineffability.”[66]  If it is true that God created us and the universe we inhabit, and if it is also true that he is a God that desires to have a relationship with us — even dwelling in those he has redeemed —then Jonas’ reflections make perfect sense. In fact, I submit: that is exactly what we should expect.

Selected Bibliography

Adams, Marilyn McCord, Robert Merrihew Adams, eds. The Problem of Evil. Oxford University Press, 1990.

Adorno, Theodor W. Aesthetic Theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998.

Alter, Torin, Sven Walter, eds. Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge. Oxford University Press, 2006.

Aquinas, Thomas. On Evil. Edited by Brian Davies. Translated by Richard Regan. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Baiasu, Roxana. “Religious Knowledge, Ineffability and Gender.” Religions 170, no. 9 (2018).

Bennett-Hunter, Guy. “New Work on Ineffability.” The Expository Times 128, no. 1 (2016).

Brooks, Larry. Story Engineering. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books, 2011.

———. Story Physics. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books, 2013.

Bruner, Jerome. Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. Harvard University Press, 1985.

Feser, Edward. Philosophy of Mind. London: Oneworld Publications, 2005.

Franklin, Christopher E. “How Literature Educates the Emotions.” Philosophia Christi 25, no. 1 (2023).

Hick, John. Evil and the God of Love. Revised edition. San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publisher, 1977.

Jonas, Silvia. Ineffability and its Metaphysics. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2016.

Kalderon, Mark Eli, ed. Fictionalism in Metaphysics. Oxford University Press, 2005.

Larrimore, Mark, ed. The Problem of Evil: A Reader. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2001.

Leibniz, G.W. Theodicy. Edited by Austin Farrer. Chicago: Open Court, 1990.

McBrayer, Justin P., Daniel Howard-Snyder, eds. The Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell, 2013.

McKee, Robert. Story. New York City: Regan Books, 1997.

Pavese, Carlotta. “Knowledge How.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Fall 2022. Edward N. Zalta & Uri Nodelman, eds. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives /fall2022/entries/knowledge-how/.

Plantinga, Alvin. God, Freedom, and Evil. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1977.

———. Knowledge and Christian Belief. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2015.

Ryle, Gilbert. The Concept of Mind. Chicago University Press, 1949.

Smith, Christian. Moral, Believing Animals. Oxford University Press, 2009.

Stanley, Jason, Timothy Williamson. “Knowing How” The Journal of Philosophy 98, no. 8 (2001).

Stump, Eleonore. Wander in Darkness. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Swinburn, Richard. Providence and the Problem of Evil. Oxford University Press, 1998.

Turner, Mark. The Literary Mind. Oxford University Press, 1996.

van Inwagen, Peter, ed. Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004.

van Inwagen, Peter, Dean Zimmerman, eds., Persons: Human and Divine. Oxford University Press, 2007.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Translated by C. K. Ogden. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 1999 [1922].

Yorke, John. Into the Woods. New York City: Abrams Press, 2014.


[1] There are various definitions of “theodicy” and “defense.” The primary distinction I am making here is that theodicies exist in the actual world, while defenses need only be internally consistent, and so they need only exist in a potential (non-actual) world. This is consistent with Stump’s usage, as well.

[2] Eleonore Stump, Wandering in Darkness (Oxford University Press, 2010).

[3] Silvia Jonas, Ineffability and its Metaphysics, (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2016).

[4] Stump, Wandering, 21, 376.

[5] Ibid., 91.

[6] Some have raised important objections to the doctrine of divine simplicity (cf. R. T. Mullins, The End of the Timeless God (Oxford University Press, 2006)). But, as noted in the paper above, divine simplicity is Aquinas’ and Stump’s reasoning. However, I do not believe one must hold to divine simplicity to reach their same conclusion. For instance, in Matt. 22:32–40, when Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is, he recites Deut. 6:5 (“You shall love the Lord your God . . .”) and then, from Lev. 19:18, adds the second greatest commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). Here I believe Jesus has provided enough of a basis to reach a similar conclusion as Aquinas/Stump, even without holding to divine simplicity.

[7] Stump, Wandering, 91.

[8] Ibid., 375.

[9] Ibid., 376.

[10] Ibid., 150, 387.

[11] Ibid., 139.

[12] Stump, Wandering, 145.

[13] Ibid., 25.

[14] The 2000 film adaptation, Hamlet, uses the theme of the hero caught between two powerful forces to typify the angst and left-out nature felt by many of the “GenX” generation in the late 1990s. Such a description can (obviously) be propositionally described (knowledge-that). But such a description would not leave a viewer (or reader) with anything close to the full knowledge that the knowledge-how process of reading the play or watching the film would.

Carlotta Pavese notes that “argue that because knowledge-how is gradable, knowledge-how is more similar to acquaintance knowledge,” or knowledge-of. For the purpose of this paper, I am not making the distinction.

[15] “It is axiomatic in analytic philosophy,” writes Stump, “that all (or virtually all) knowledge is knowledge that” (48). And “My aim is to show certain inadequacies in the approach to knowledge common in the analytic tradition and to stress the merits of what I’m calling ‘Franciscan knowledge’ by pointing out the ways in which that alternative kind of knowledge remedies some of the inadequacies in the analytic approach” (42).

[16] Stump, Wandering, 77.

[17] An example of this is the metaphysical concept of fictionalism. See Mark Eli Kalderon’s edited volume, Fictionalism in Metaphysics.

[18] It should be noted that some philosophers disagree with this claim. This will be discussed farther down in this paper.

[19] Stump, Wandering, 78.

[20] Ibid., 373. She also provides other examples of this ambiguous language, such as “. . . God gives to each of the protagonists [in the four stories mentioned] something that these sufferers are willing to trade their suffering to receive, once they understand the nature of what they are being given” (375, emphasis added). And: “If in fact the Thomistic defense were insipid or unpalatable in what it offers as a benefit defeating suffering, we would feel it when we saw it in operation in the life of a suffering with the story has brought us into sympathy” (453, emphasis added).

[21] Jonas, Ineffability, 1.

[22] Ibid., 7–8.

[23] Ibid., 4.

[24] Here is an extremely brief survey of the three kinds of (potential) ineffability Jonas discusses and rejects: [1] Ineffable Objects (or Properties): Jonas rejects the ineffability of both haecceities (a property that defines an object’s individuality) and bare particulars, noting that the former seems to “presuppose what they are meant to account for” while the latter, similarly, “lacks explanatory power and is indeterminate” (65, 69). [2] Ineffable Propositions: This seems justified on the surface. “Experiencing ineffability feels meaningful. We feel as if we understand or learn something. The things we ordinarily learn are truths; hence, it seems that we have good reason to think that experiencing ineffability consists in grasping an ineffable truth” (74). She classes this, however, as an “empty proposition,” which is thereby trivial and does not qualify as essentially ineffable. Ultimately, the best hope for making this category essentially ineffable comes from the perspectivalist [sic], but the only way he can “save his theory from contradiction involves embracing some form of truth-relativism,” which she is not willing to accept (98). [3] Ineffable Content: Regarding concepts in particular, she argues that while a “linguistic expression” may not always be available, “some kind of demonstrative resource (‘this’, ‘that’)” is needed and so this is not essentially ineffable (108–109).

[25] Jonas, Ineffability, 157, 155.

[26] Ibid., 158, emphasis added.

[27] Stanley/Williams as quoted in Jonas, Ineffability, 132.

[28] Jonas, Ineffability, 134.

[29] Gottlob Frege as quoted in Jonas, Ineffability, 136.

[30] Jonas, Ineffability, 136.

[31] Ibid., 138.

[32] Ibid., 142.

[33] Ibid., 158.

[34] Ibid., 159.

[35] Additionally, Jonas calls upon Rudolf Lingens’ example of his amnesiac self, lost in the library and reading facts about himself. He does not know he is himself until “he is ready to say, ‘. . . I am Rudolf Lingens’” (Lingens quoted in Jonas, 159). Jonas adds: “According to [David] Lewis, what Lingens is missing is a piece of nonpropositional knowledge” (160). And referencing William Seager’s view on indexical knowledge as “a self-representational sub-system within the overall cognitive economy” which is “primitive and information-free” (Seager as quoted in Jonas, 160).

[36] A closely related (and ongoing) debate is between Physicalism and Anti-physicalism. See Torin Alter and Sven Walter’s edited volume, Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge (Oxford University Press, 2007).

[37] While originally an Anti-physicalism proponent, Jackson has since changed his position. See his article, “The Knowledge Argument, Diaphanousness, representationalism” in Phenomenal Concepts.

[38] These are the positions of David Papineau and Laurence Nemirow, respectively (both of whom are Physicalists), in Phenomenal Concepts.

[39] Jonas, Ineffability, 162.

[40] Jonas, Ineffability, 162.

[41] Ibid., 163, emphasis in original.

[42] Ibid., 164.

[43] Ibid., emphasis in original. The point is illustrated by contrasting how a person can be both intellectually aware of a chilly breeze and also experientially aware of the same breeze. One may be experiential aware with cognitively focusing on the breeze (and thereby becoming intellectually aware). And so the experiential can lead to the intellectual. But one can never be intellectually aware of a chilly breeze without first experiencing it. A potential counterargument would be that one could be intellectually aware of the breeze due to a friend talking about it. But this removes the acquaintance factor, and so it not the same thing.

[44] Ernest Sosa as quoted in Jonas, Ineffability, 164.

[45] She prefaces this discussion about acquaintance with three caveats: “I do not assume that acquaintance gives us a priori justified belief or infallible knowledge,” due to “the possibility of error” (165); second, “I take the acquaintance relation to be a primitive relation undefinable in more basic terms” (165); and the third, “the question of possible relata: who can be acquainted with what kind of entity?” (166, emphasis in original).

[46] Jonas, Ineffability, 175. And: “just like it is possible to get acquainted with the world surround us . . . it is possible to get acquainted with one’s Self, and this Self-acquaintance is what explains our paradigmatic cases of ineffability” (167).

[47] Ibid., 157.

[48] Ibid., 167, 174–182.

[49] Ibid., 168.

[50] Jonas, Ineffability, 169.

[51] Ibid., 172, cf. 181.

[52] Ibid., 173.

[53] Ibid., 174.

[54] Ibid., 167.

[55] Jonas, Ineffability, 175.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Ibid., 176.

[58] Ibid., 179.

[59] Jonas, Ineffability, 179.

[60] Guy Bennett-Hunter, “New Work on Ineffability,” (The Expository Times 128, no. 1, 2016), 3.

[61] Jason Stanley and Timothy Williams, “Knowledge How,” (Journal of Philosophy 98, no 8, 2001).

[62] Jonas, Ineffability, 133.

[63] Stanley and Williams, “Knowledge How,” 416.

[64] Stanley and Williams, “Knowledge How,” 411.

[65] Jonas, Ineffability, 172.

[66] Jonas, Ineffability, 178.