published in Lights of Irfan, Volume 8, pages 309-322 Wilmette, IL: Irfan Colloquia, 2007
Following the last year introduction to the basic tenets of the Bahá’í epistemology at Irfán colloquium, we continue our discussion of minimalism and its relevance to the Bahá’í Faith.
In its restricted domain, minimalism stands for an epistemological system in which, on one side, it is in agreement with many of the principles of scientific objectivism. Minimalism accepts the objective reality outside human perception. It values the instrumentality of the human intellect as the principal tool of discovering such realities. Like science, minimalism is firmly based on modern logic, linear procession, clarity of statements, precision, probability, and other commonly utilized scientific methodology. However, it tends to go beyond the reductionism of scientific objectivity to favorably adopt some of the subjectivist views in epistemology. For example, it distinguishes between irrational and trans-rational. Minimalism accepts the objective existence of non-observables that are absolutely necessary to explain the observables.
Traditionally, the application of rigorous logical methods had been considered appropriate only in the domain of theoretical and applied mathematics, experimental sciences, and artificial intelligence. Minimalism makes a heroic effort to argue the feasibility of applying the principles of such formal methods when studying religious, metaphysical, and ethical issues as well. At the same time, minimalism tries to avoid being entrapped in the limits of total objectification. It acknowledges the validity of other modes of investigation such as trans-rational intuition, meditation, and revelation not only in the ontological domains but as acceptable methods in mathematical and scientific endeavors.
Since the Bahá’í Faith argues in favor of the validity of adopting a perspective in which reality is a unified whole rather than a fragmented entity, utilizing the basic tenets of minimalism is of particular interest in giving the Bahá’í epistemological system a more formal appearance. An effort will be made to explore such possibilities when discussing the parallel views between the two systems.