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Understanding Who God Really Is

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NOTE: This is the third and final part of a three part series on classical theism by theologian Thomas M. Cothran. Be sure to read part one and part two.

 

Any defense against Stephen H. Webb’s critique of classical theism must, then, defend some particular form of classical theism that does have an ontology. Webb declares that “Aquinas is the best representative of what is often called classical theism,”1 and so for the remainder of this article, we will consider whether Webb’s arguments hold as against Aquinas, unless Webb has made clear that the target of his criticism belongs to a different school.2

Aquinas is a hylomorphist. Webb identifies hylomorphism as the doctrine that “all beings except Being itself are composed of form and matter,” which is decidedly incorrect. Neither Aristotle nor Aquinas—hylomorphists par excellance—believed that all beings save one are composed of form and matter. Aristotle taught the existence of a number of separate immaterial substances3 and Aquinas believed that angels were immaterial forms.

But Aquinas does believe that physical things are composed of matter and form. Form refers to any way in which a thing is actually determined. Being green, positively charged, dry, or 6 feet long, or having a location, a certain mass, or subatomic spin—all these are “forms” in the general sense in which Aquinas uses the term. “Matter” simply refers to the potentiality in a thing to take on different forms (in the case of accidental change, such as when an apple ripens) or to the potentiality in a thing to cease existing by having its matter incorporated into something else (in the case of substantial change, such as when an apple is eaten). Matter is then the principle that permits a thing to change and that, in the same stroke, renders the thing liable to extinction.

That matter itself is potential, and not actually anything is a crucial point. And only if one misses this point will Webb’s claim that modern science has overturned the classical understanding of matter be plausible. We know more about the nature of blood and the composition of human tissue than did the ancients or the medievals. We know that the fundamental elements resemble the periodic table more than the fourfold of earth, air, fire, and water. Does this mean we know more about matter? If we discover capillaries in the lungs, striation in muscle tissue, the atomic number of a carbon atom, or the charge of an electron, we have gained knowledge of forms inherent in the world—we have learned something about the way things actually are.

Matter in itself is not actually anything; it is the potential of some thing to change or to cease to be. For this reason, it is wrong to say that carbon is, strictly speaking, matter (though it is material).4 Matter refers to the potential to take on different forms. No discovery of modern science overturns this notion of matter—as philosophers such as David Oderberg have pointed out, modern science must actually presuppose this, however tacitly—particularly in studying the basic elements of the universe. To say that a being is material is to say that it is composed of form (actual determinations of the thing) and matter (the potential to take on different determinations). There is no being called “matter”; matter, strictly speaking, is a constitutive principle of material beings.

Because matter refers to that principle in a being which could be otherwise or not at all. No material being exists necessarily, and every material being depends for its existence on parts. Because a statue is made of bronze, there is no necessity that it go on existing. The statue can be melted down and the matter reshaped into something else. Likewise, I am a material being. Some day my matter will be set loose from the human form, and I will cease to be. To be material is in principle to be capable of change and extinction.

Claiming that God is material, then, is to declare God contingent, and consequently to deny that God is a necessary being. Such a move is jarring, of course, because God would be dependent upon not only prior parts, but upon some further necessary being—a being that could not but exist and be what it is.

Conclusion

David Bentley Hart has observed that monotheism and polytheism do not differ by the number of deities they posit, but by what they mean by “divinity.” It was quite common in the ancient world to speak of anything that was intelligent, immortal, and powerful as a god. The revelation of monotheism is not that there is only one of these powerful beings loose in the heavens, but that all beings derive from something not itself a being—at least, a being among other beings. The Jewish and Christian Scriptures assert this ontological difference by dividing all that is into created and uncreated being.

The notion of an infinite cause of finite being that transcends the cosmos believe is signified by the word “God” with a capital “G” (or in Greek, “ho theos,” preceded by the definite article). A being within the world who is distinguished from us by powers such as immortality, greater knowledge, and so on, but who is nevertheless a being in the cosmos is traditionally referred by the word “god” with a lower case “g”, or else been called angels or demons.

Hart notes that the comparatively recent trend of insisting that God is a finite spirit whose existence and personhood are more or less like our own has been called “theistic personalism,” but holds that a better title would be monopolytheism. Monopolytheists assert that there is only one God, but they understand divinity as the ancient pagans did—as simply referring to a powerful spirit within our world of space and time.

Yet one might question the monopolytheist label as descriptive of Webb’s position not because of the “poly” but because of the “mono.” After all, one carbon atom shares the same form as another, but is a different entity because it is composed of different matter. If the eternal Word is essentially material, then he must be a different entity than the Father. Just as I am constituted as a different being than another person by virtue (at least in part) of the difference in what I am made of, so the Father and Son would be different, even if they shared the form of divinity. Or else Father and Son share the same matter, in which case they are but different aspects of the same being. Webb’s view is ineluctably heretical—either polytheistic or modalist. It is no coincidence Webb’s conception of the divine is based on “Mormon metaphysics”; Mormonism is explicitly polytheistic. Accepting the consequences of God’s materiality puts one outside the ambit not only of what is intellectually respectable, but also what is permissible for a Christian to believe.

By now, it should be clear that atheist readers should neither adopt Webb’s criticisms nor confuse his theology with orthodox Christian dogma. And while I have as yet only seen little evidence of the former, there is abundant evidence of the latter. In fact, the new atheists seem insistent that the monopolytheist notion of God is native to Christianity, while the monotheistic notion is some sort of recent academic fabrication. The traditional notion of God as infinite, transcendent, and simple, while neither entailing nor presupposing the doctrine of the Trinity, in fact is necessary for it. The philosophically defensible notion of divinity (the “monotheistic” or classically theist notion) is integral to Christian dogmatics. For this reason, Christians can merrily agree with the attacks of a philosophically dessicated and theologically unsound notion of divinity we too easily find misnamed “Christian.”

Notes:

  1. Mormon Metaphysics p. 193
  2. In fact, Webb often speaks of Aquinas almost as though he is the primary systematizer of a single philosophical tradition known as “classical theism.” For example, Webb states that “Classical theism … did not receive its most systematic treatment until the work of Thomas Aquinas ….”Mormon Metaphysics, 5.
  3. See Joseph Owens, “The Reality of the Aristotelian Separate Movers,”Review of Metaphysics 3 (3):319 - 337 (1950)
  4. Aquinas does allow for bones, tissue, etc. to be called matter secondarily. Thus, human beings are made, in part, out of flesh, sinew, tissue, carbon, etc., and in this sense they can be called matter. But these are not matter as such, since they too have forms (chemical composition, physical dimensions, ductility, and so on). One cannot say, for example, that carbon is matter if it has an atomic number of 6, since the latter refers to a form.
Thomas M. Cothran

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Thomas M. Cothran is a writer that lives with his wife and son in Lexington, KY. He blogs occasionally at thinkingbetween.blogspot.com.

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  • Help! What have I missed? Does Thomas M Cohan have an Understanding Who God Really Is that understanding so mysterious that he cannot describe it to me? I got the 'feeling' that it's not God that is difficult to understand, (all I have to do is say God and my understanding is guaranteed) but rather it is matter that cannot be understood, without an insight into its 'form' which I take to have some equivalence to the 'concept'. Any way I have already tried to clarify what hylomorphism is and what subsistence is, and I am told I can't understand the incompleteness theorem, as well. (So, anyone at all. Please educate me as this is most certainly a confession of an inability to understand some thing? that is far more immaterial than a mere Socratic ignorance). I shall be looking for some clarification from 'all of you'.

    But yet I ask: should I reject - monopolytheism? Is this what Thomas Cohan is all about? (I surmise that this refers to the basic dichotomy between classical theism, and scripture, and thus the Trinity?) Indeed I have in the last post sincerely attempted to understand the Trinity. I must make an effort to relate this to Kant's trinitarian critiques. I am actually a little confused as to what Mr. Cohan position really is with respect to all of this.

    But for now, I think I need a rest. But I will come back to re-read again all the articles, and hopefully your helpful comments Thanks.

    • Kraker Jak

      Cohan for all his critique of Webb's ideas and thinking, does not seem to have any sort of handle on what or who God is....even from the Catholic perspective. At least none that he would like to share.

      This morning I came across this short video which seems to at least portray the Catholic god not as the punitive supernatural entity which most Catholic grew up in fear of, but as a God that gives freedom from fear. It will not answer all the questions, but at least takes a step or two into the camp where Cohan seems reluctant to go. Just thought you may like it. It may or may not provide a couple of small pieces for the big puzzle.

      What is God?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9I4Pk0VSOog

    • Guest

      The Theistic Personalist "deity" conceived of as a "Trinity" could most likely be called a monopolytheism and Kant's criticism would apply.

      But Kant's criticism can't be applied to Classic Theism.

    • Aquinasbot

      If we could adequately describe God then it wouldn't be God that we were describing, at least in the sense that our words are able to contain all that encompasses God, which would make our words greater than He.

      Conceptually speaking, we can infer from our own reason what God must be in simple terms and what he is not. Anselms definition, while not perfect, adequately points to a definition of God that can at least begin to give us some idea of what God is like: "That than which nothing greater can be conceived."

      If you take one aspect about what we know in our experience, such as justice, then we know there are degrees of justice. It is implied then that if there are degrees of justice, then there must be a perfection of it, a justice in which no greater justice can be conceived. As far as God goes, God would be perfect justice or that justice that our minds know exists but cannot quite fathom it completely.

      • I really appreciate what you said in the first paragraph. However, I just had the thought that with respect to Anselm's definition: (That than which nothing greater can be conceived), that there might be, for much of philosophy, some sort of implied challenge; as translated perhaps from the phrase, to know, love, -and serve? - God, to indeed place knowledge before wisdom. . Of course, our concepts are perhaps less adequate than those of the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones, which include as I understand both angel and devil!!! So hopefully I can sit back on my 'chair' (it's certainly not a throne) for a little while, and try to understand the relationship between heart and mind. Thanks for you attempt to come to the rescue.

      • Kraker Jak

        we know there are degrees of justice. It is implied then that if there
        are degrees of justice, then there must be a perfection of it, a justice
        in which no greater justice can be conceived.

        Just how do we know that. You may assume that but you can't possibly "know" that...any more than you could know that because there are degrees of angst and depression that there must be some perfect or ultimate degree of angst.

        • Aquinasbot

          Would you say that there is more justice in convicting and jailing a rapist or letting someone who is walking ahead of you know that they dropped a hundred dollar bill?

    • Kraker Jak

      This comment was removed two minutes after I posted it today...so much for the integrity of S.N.

      A bit off topic....but before I exit the venue...It has to be said.
      and someone from the unwashed masses has to say it. There is no hope
      for the future of Catholicism, especially in the West, if the powers
      that be do not allow married men to become priests, and I am not
      speaking of Anglican converts, ...There are many married deacons who
      would love to serve as priests.and /or allow the clergy to marry, If not
      actually allow women into the "priesthood" heaven forbid;-)

      • loreenlee

        So you're leaving too, eh! (We're both Canadian - yes?) All, the best to you Jack Cracker! Kraker Jak. I found 'my' answer', for what I came for. I now feel I can go back to where I was, hopefully at a 'higher' level of understanding. Marriage. Will have to look up the definition on Webster's!!! Tale care.

        • Kraker Jak

          Yeah....leaving...will not be back in verbal....text expression....but may from time to time post a cartoon without words.

          • Alexandra

            Be well KJ. I will miss you. :)

  • William Davis

    That matter itself is potential, and not actually anything is a crucial point.

    I'll tell that to a tree the next time I run my car into one. It's not actually anything, so I can't run into it ;)

    No discovery of modern science overturns this notion of matter—as philosophers such as David Oderberg have pointed out, modern science must actually presuppose this, however tacitly—particularly in studying the basic elements of the universe.

    When you have your own definition of matter, of course no scientific discovery can affect it, you're in your own self built mental model. David Oderberg is a philosopher of ethics and metaphysics, not science. Not sure why I should be impressed or even concerned about what he thinks about philosopher of science, that's it's own specialization.

    All this talk of Aristotle, who was a great philosopher, needs to keep in mind his view of matter...it was bogus.

    Aristotle, rejecting the atomic theory, instead analyzed the four terrestrial elements with the sense of touch:

    Air is primarily wet and secondarily hot.

    Fire is primarily hot and secondarily dry.

    Earth is primarily dry and secondarily cold.

    Water is primarily cold and secondarily wet.

    Sorry, but I'm going with science on matter and energy ;)

    • Ladolcevipera

      I'll tell that to a tree the next time I run my car into one. It's not actually anything, so I can't run into it ;)

      Aren't you confusing two different meanings of "matter"? The common understanding is simply "stuff", something that a particular type of thing is made of. In the Aristotelian sense it is the "materia prima", pure potentiality. It is the unknowable substratum that carries the "what-ness" of a thing. The tree you don't want to run into is Matter + Form.

      • William Davis

        The tree you don't want to run into is Matter + Form.

        Matter doesn't exist without form, at least as far as anyone has ever observed in the history of the human race. It can be converted to energy in special situation (like a nuclear bomb), and energy has form too. Why not abandon these old useless definitions for effective ones? As I said, in my post, I don't see how a deeply flawed view of matter by Aristotle helps anyone think about anything, but perhaps you know something I don't (I don't have a degree in philosophy).

        • Guest

          You don't have the slightest clue as to the difference between metaphysics & philosophy vs Science do you?

          • William Davis

            Again, hoping not to antagonize you, but I do know the difference. There are tons of metaphysics, and tons of philosophies. In general I think we are modeling reality, so superior models get the most accuracy coupled with the most efficiency (least bloated ontology helps too). Philosophy of science is a specific branch of philosophy that is still useful, and ethics, as a stand alone branch is extremely important. Matter has no relation to ethics that I'm aware of.

          • Guest

            >Again, hoping not to antagonize you, but I do know the difference.

            Based on your current response I am skeptical you do, thought I accept that you think that you do.

            >There are tons of metaphysics, and tons of philosophies.

            Which must be argued philosophically not treated like empirical scientific arguments. Your response is like saying "I don't believe in galaxies because I can't see one under my microscope".

            > In general I think we are modeling reality, so superior models get the most accuracy coupled with the most efficiency (least bloated ontology helps too).

            Right so far as you go......

            >Philosophy of science is a specific branch of philosophy that is still useful, and ethics, as a stand alone branch is extremely important. Matter has no relation to ethics that I'm aware of.

            We are discussing God here so we are talking about Natural Theology, Philosophy of Nature, and metaphysics.

            What does Philosophy of Science have to do with anything?

          • William Davis

            What does Philosophy of Science have to do with anything?

            In my view, matter is the domain of science (previously called natural philosophy). If there is no way to falsify or test a point of view, I do not believe it can be known to be true. One is free to create their own view of reality of however. I've often got the impression here that Catholic philosophers think science is supposed to be subordinate to their philosophy...I find that kind of annoying and unhelpful.

          • Guest

            Since you are fond of quoting the wiki.

            "Philosophy of science is a branch of philosophy concerned with the foundations, methods, and implications of science. The central questions of this study concern what qualifies as science, the reliability of scientific theories, and the ultimate purpose of science. This discipline overlaps with metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology, for example, when it explores the relationship between science and truth."

            We are discussing the philosophical arguments for the existence of God. What does that have to do with science?

            For example: Discussing wither or not the theory of a Hawking/Harte is scientific Cosmology or "Metaphysical" Cosmology (as one critic of Hawking once quipped) is a matter for Philosophy of Science.

            What does that have to do with demonstrating the existence of God via philosophical argument?

            >In my view, matter is the domain of science (previously called natural philosophy).

            If you mean energy, atomic and sub-atomic particles and or exotic matter etc (which in metaphysical terms are forms of Aristotelian matter)?

            Yep fallacy of equivocation. You are having a scientific discussion with us not a metaphysical or philosophical one.

            > If there is no way to falsify or test a point of view, I do not believe it can be known to be true.

            I smell empiricism and positivism. How do you "test" the principle of non-contradiction by this method I wonder or logic in general?

            >One is free to create their own view of reality of however. I've often got the impression here that Catholic philosophers think science is supposed to be subordinate to their philosophy...I find that kind of annoying and unhelpful.

            No philosophy in general is above science. Which philosophy is the best must be investigated by reason, intellect and logic. By asking questions.

            Yep I was right.

            The positivism runs deep.......

          • William Davis

            Your sense of smell if fairly accurate. I'm glad to see you quoting wiki, looks like I'm rubbing off on you :) In general I think empiricism is the best way to verify theories that are often the result of rationalism. It seems the best way to thin the philosophical herd. If you want to talk about God, I'll provide my favorite proof from Baruch Spinoza (which precludes Christian substance dualism)

            In propositions one through fifteen of Part One, Spinoza presents the basic elements of his picture of God. God is the infinite, necessarily existing (that is, uncaused), unique substance of the universe. There is only one substance in the universe; it is God; and everything else that is, is in God.

            Proposition 1: A substance is prior in nature to its affections.

            Proposition 2: Two substances having different attributes have nothing in common with one another. (In other words, if two substances differ in nature, then they have nothing in common).

            Proposition 3: If things have nothing in common with one another, one of them cannot be the cause of the other.

            Proposition 4: Two or more distinct things are distinguished from one another, either by a difference in the attributes [i.e., the natures or essences] of the substances or by a difference in their affections [i.e., their accidental properties].

            Proposition 5: In nature, there cannot be two or more substances of the same nature or attribute.

            Proposition 6: One substance cannot be produced by another substance.

            Proposition 7: It pertains to the nature of a substance to exist.

            Proposition 8: Every substance is necessarily infinite.

            Proposition 9: The more reality or being each thing has, the more attributes belong to it.

            Proposition 10: Each attribute of a substance must be conceived through itself.

            Proposition 11: God, or a substance consisting of infinite attributes, each of which expresses eternal and infinite essence, necessarily exists. (The proof of this proposition consists simply in the classic “ontological proof for God's existence”. Spinoza writes that “if you deny this, conceive, if you can, that God does not exist. Therefore, by axiom 7 [‘If a thing can be conceived as not existing, its essence does not involve existence’], his essence does not involve existence. But this, by proposition 7, is absurd. Therefore, God necessarily exists, q.e.d.”)

            Proposition 12: No attribute of a substance can be truly conceived from which it follows that the substance can be divided.

            Proposition 13: A substance which is absolutely infinite is indivisible.

            Proposition 14: Except God, no substance can be or be conceived.

            This proof that God—an infinite, necessary and uncaused, indivisible being—is the only substance of the universe proceeds in three simple steps. First, establish that no two substances can share an attribute or essence (Ip5). Then, prove that there is a substance with infinite attributes (i.e., God) (Ip11). It follows, in conclusion, that the existence of that infinite substance precludes the existence of any other substance. For if there were to be a second substance, it would have to have someattribute or essence. But since God has all possible attributes, then the attribute to be possessed by this second substance would be one of the attributes already possessed by God. But it has already been established that no two substances can have the same attribute. Therefore, there can be, besides God, no such second substance.

            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spinoza/

            I've yet to see anyone do much with that one, and it's elegantly simple. If there is only one substance, God, then there can be no second substance. To simplify it further, perhaps whatever the universe is made of (matter and energy but what these things are gets strange in QM) is all there is, and it exists necessarily.

          • Guest

            Better....but Spinoza is not saying nothing original here. Sounds like he is just channeling his inner Parmenides which Aristotle was answering.

            Both views lead to a type of Pantheism.

          • William Davis

            Both views lead to a type of Pantheism.

            How can we be certain pantheism isn't true? The proof seems as solid as any. This is my problem with all of it, in a nutshell. So many plausible views, little way to have any certainty (without faith at least).

          • Guest

            Good question.

            I don't know right now and I don't care.

            I just wanted you to argue philosophically and ditch the science/positivism crap.

            Use that when arguing with "Scientific" Young Earth Creationists or some such tedious.

            Here use philosophy or you are wasting your time.

            Just looking out for you and I mean that without insult or irony.

          • William Davis

            I don't understand. You I bring up philosophy and you say "I don't know right now and I don't care". Then you say "I just wanted you to argue philosophically and ditch the science crap". If you don't care, why bother commenting at all? I must be missing something. Either way, thanks for looking out for me (even though I find your methods a bit odd) :)

          • Guest

            >I don't understand. You I bring up philosophy and you say "I don't know right now and I don't care".

            I'm lazy & even though I am a Christian in communion with the Pope I am a hedonist at heart & I only do what amuses me at the moment. That question does not amuse me.

            OTOH I might seek the answer if I fancy it but I don't feel like doing it right now.

            Also I don't know the answer and if I am going to pick on people for speaking of things they don't understand I am hardly going to run around pretending I know what I am talking about when I don't now am I?

            I don't fake it. If I don't know I will tell you.

            > Then you say "I just wanted you to argue philosophically and ditch the science crap".

            Because you are in fact committing a category mistake with your science nonsense and completely missing the point.

            You are trying to play American Football on a Soccer field during a Soccer game and you are trying to run the Soccer game according to the rules of American football and equivocating because Soccer is called Football by Europeans.

            How is that not a waste of everybody's time?

            I would normally lurk & keep out of it but it's like watching a TV show where one of the characters is screwing up big time and you want to jump into the screen and shake him saying"Hey will you cut it out!".

            Any Classic Theist will tell you the existence of God is a question of philosophy not empirical science. It's like watch a clueless internet Atheist waste time debunking Young Earth Creationism to a Theistic Evolutionist.

            I've seen the later and what happens is the Atheist winds up wasting time putting on the hat of a YEC apologist to try to convert the Theistic Evolutionist to YEC so he can THEN undermine his religious beliefs with his anti YEC polemic.

            Hilarity ensues.....

            >If you don't care, why bother commenting at all? I must be missing something. Either way, thanks for looking out for me (even though I find your methods a bit odd) :)

            I care about moving the discussion along & wasting time recasting Philosophical arguments as scientific ones is still a category mistake.

            That philosophical argument from Spinoza. That was good you should have opened with that instead of wasting time dogmatically asserting the term Matter is only important in it's scientific definition.

            I will go back to lurking till provoked.

            Cheers.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            That philosophical argument from Spinoza. That was good you should have opened with that instead of wasting time dogmatically asserting the term Matter is only important in it's scientific definition not it's philosophical one

            So how do we know that the philosophical definition is correct or meaningful?

          • Guest

            We argue it & pit it against it's opponents.

            The scientific one of course isn't invalid. It just addresses another category.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            So sophistry and illusion then. ;)

            Since we are talking about philosophical matter, perhaps you could define it and tell me why I should care about your definition.
            I see why I should care about scientific conceptions of matter, as they are eminently useful and descriptive. What use is your philosophical matter?

          • Guest

            >So sophistry and illusion then. ;)

            Like you are doing with this lame response?

            >Since we are talking about philosophical matter, perhaps you could define it and tell me why I should care about your definition.

            Ambiguous and overly general question. You might as well ask "Why should I care about String Theory? " Or Penrose vs Hawking Singularity or Harte/Hawking State?

            >I see why I should care about scientific conceptions of matter, as they are eminently useful and descriptive. What use is your philosophical matter?

            Your problem is you are stuck in Positivism land. You need to look to philosophy. Science will give you data but the meaning and implications of data in regards to being and reality belong to philosophy.

            Bye.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Ambiguous and overly general question. You might as well ask "Why should I care about String Theory? " Or Penrose vs Hawking Singularity or Harte/Hawking State?

            Or, you could just define philosophical matter. This is a nice little dodge though.

            Your problem is you are stuck in Positivism land. You need to look to philosophy. Science will give you data but the meaning and implications of data in regards to being and reality belong to philosophy.

            Not a logical positivist. Nice try though. How about you just define what philosophical matter is. I'm curious. Should only take a couple of sentences, and will be much more useful than all of your incorrect assumptions about my views.

          • Ladolcevipera

            I just wanted you to argue philosophically and ditch the science/positivism crap.

            A scientific, positivist worldview may be questionable, but it is a philosophical position. So you cannot call it "crap". Instead you should argue against it.

          • Guest

            It's already been done by none other than AG Flew during the 50's at the height of his Atheism.

            It's self referential. If the only meaningful knowledges is scientific & this very concept is philosophical (& can't be prove scientifically) then by it's own standards it's not meaningful. Positivism is meant to eliminate philosophy but it fails by it's own standards.

          • Ladolcevipera

            I have no intention to defend positivism. Others long before me have done that with philosophical argumentation (cf. A. Comté, Mach, Mill, Peirce, The Wiener Kreis). I do not believe in it because it is a reductionist worldview. But it is a very well argued worldview and as such you have to respect it and not call it "crap". It is not only intellectually unfair but also bad manners.
            btw: What is this "Guest" pseudonym? Did you chose that yourself or does SN invite "guest" commentors to react to posts?

          • Guest

            Before I go back to lurking....

            >It is not only intellectually unfair but also bad manners.

            I have about as much respect for Positivism as I do Young earth "scientific" Creationism, Jesus Myterism, Oswald didn't act Aloneism, birtherism, 911 truthism, belief in Pink Unicorns etc...

            Which is to say none. If you respect it that is your choice & you really don't need my approval to do so but I never will respect Positivism.
            I will hold it in contempt for being an irrational belief system.

            If I where ever to be an Atheist I could still never be a positivist since it is a fundamentally self contradictory world view unless I abandon reason & logic all together.

            You might as well say God inserted Dinosaur bones in rocks to "test our Faith" and be done with it. That is my level of respect for Positivism.

            > Others long before me have done that with philosophical argumentation ...

            Which by definition undermines it. Since the whole point of positivism is to reduce the analysis of reality & by extension God to scientific and empirical investigation. But the concept itself cannot be verified by it's own standards. If it could be somehow justified philosophically then you are undermining it by doing so since you are in effect saying "The only meaningful truths are those truths that can be established scientifically except for this truth". Which is special pleading of the worst sort.

            If even one meaningful fundamental truth can be established by Philosophy then why not two? Like the existence of God?

            Cheers.

            BTW you seem philosophically competent keep up the good work.

            Cheers again.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            The God of Abraham, Aquinas and Anselm is the only God.

            Aquinas defines God:

            Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

            This is a far cry from the God of Abraham. While Aquinas and others have tried valiantly to show that the first mover and the Abrahamic God are one and the same, they have been unsuccessful. Indeed, in many ways the God of the Classical Theists is different from the God of Abraham.

          • Guest

            So what you are telling me is you are yet another Sola Scriptura Atheist like William?

            The God of the Bible MUST be interpreted in light of Philosophy, Apostolic Church Tradition and by the Living Church whom Jesus founded.

            I am pretty sure I am as a Catholic a Strong Atheist toward whatever privately interpreted "God of Abraham" you came up with in your personal readings and interpretation of the Bible.

            >While Aquinas and others have tried valiantly to show that the first mover and the Abrahamic God are one and the same, they have been unsuccessful.

            Where did Aquinas do that? Because according to the proofs I've read Aquinas said of the first cause "which we take to be God". I don't recall him venturing proofs?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            So what you are telling me is you are yet another Sola Scriptura Atheist like William?

            I don't think either one of us are Sola Scriptura atheists. It is a convenient smear though. I allow any given theist to define God however he wishes, but I do reserve the right to question the sources of that definition and the consistency of said sources.

            The God of the Bible MUST be interpreted in light of Philosophy, Apostolic Church Tradition and by the Living Church whom Jesus founded.

            I don't have a problem with that. I do question why a personal tri-omni deity, who supposedly loves us presents himself opaquely and best through a complicated set of traditions and scriptures.

            I am pretty sure I am as a Catholic a Strong Atheist toward whatever privately interpreted "God of Abraham" you came up with in your personal readings and interpretation of the Bible.

            I thought the Catholic position would be that my conception of God is but a shadow of who God really is. Is Allah a misunderstanding of God or are you a strong atheist towards Allah?

            Where did Aquinas do that? Because according to the proofs arguing for a first cause I've read, Aquinas said of the first cause "that which we take to be God". I don't recall him venturing proofs God and the First Cause are the same?

            Aquinas and nearly all theists who follow after him, cheat and equivocate by giving the first cause the name God. If I grant you a first cause, you still have a lot of work to do. You cannot even show that the first cause is singular rather than first causes.

            Aquinas does try to derive various properties of the first cause, such as simplicity. I think he was largely unsuccessful to this effect.

          • Guest

            Some parting words to you William.

            >I don't think either one of us are Sola Scriptura atheists. It is a convenient smear though.

            Your words "While Aquinas and others have tried valiantly to show that the first mover and the Abrahamic God are one and the same,".

            You read the Bible Alone divorced from Tradition and Philosophy interpreted privately. You set the Prime mover and the God of the Bible against each other. How are you not a Sola Scriptura Atheist?

            >I allow any given theist to define God however he wishes, but I do reserve the right to question the sources of that definition and the consistency of said sources.

            You make bald assertions but little argument as to WHY one should believe the God of the Bible is not the same as the prime mover. Thought I suspect it is from a Fundamentalist reading of Scripture(because usually that is how it is). You likely take the Anthropomorphisms in the Bible hyper literally and unequivocally and not analogously or metaphorically.

            >I don't have a problem with that. I do question why a personal tri-omni deity, who supposedly loves us presents himself opaquely and best through a complicated set of traditions and scriptures.

            Classic Theism teaches us God has no obligations to us so He is not obligated to reveal Himself in a way you personally think you would find convince. He didn't have to create us at all. Sounds like you believe God should be a Theistic Personalist "deity" with obligations to us? I am a strong Atheist toward that "god" as well.

            Read some Brian Davies and disabuse yourself of that notion.

            >I thought the Catholic position would be that my conception of God is but a shadow of who God really is. Is Allah a misunderstanding of God or are you a strong atheist towards Allah?

            In terms of Natural Theology and Philosophy Christians, Muslims and Jews have a similar notion of God with only a hair's worth of difference.

            Revealed theology is where we differ. Muslims and Jews believe there are no real distinctions of any kind in God/Allah/HaShem where as Christians believe there are Mysterious real distinctions of opposing relations subsisting in the divine essence.

            >Aquinas and nearly all theists who follow after him, cheat and equivocate by giving the first cause the name God. If I grant you a first cause, you still have a lot of work to do. You cannot even show that the first cause is singular rather than first causes.

            I pretty much can & must in a Top down causality in regards to Being. You are channeling your inner Dawkins here equivocating between Aquinas' first Cause argument with the Kalam Cosmological Argument. For philosophical purposes Aquinas assumes the Universe had no formal beginning when arguing the first cause.

            Anyway if I was not clear I effectively asked you where Aquinas formally argued the God of Abraham and the First cause where one and the same. Because I am skeptical he ever made such an argument(but I could be wrong). Enlighten me if you know. If not go in peace.

            >Aquinas does try to derive various properties of the first cause, such as simplicity. I think he was largely unsuccessful to this effect.

            One day you will have to give your reasons for these conclusions and they will have to be correct philosophical responses.

            None of this equivocating scientific terms and philosophical ones.

            Just saying buddy.;-)

            Anyway William if I am too contentious toward you know it is all in good fun. I bere you no ill will and I wish you well.

            goodbye I leave you too it till my interest is peaked again.

            Cheers and good fortune to you.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            You read the Bible Alone divorced from Tradition and Philosophy interpreted privately. You set the Prime mover and the God of the Bible against each other. How are you not a Sola Scriptura Atheist?

            For the sake of discussion, I will grant you that there exists a prime mover. You cannot even show that the prime mover is singular - Aristotle thought there were multiple first movers. If you wish to say that the Abrahamic God is the prime mover, you may be consistent, but you have not presented any proof or reason for us to believe that the Abrahamic God exists. The prime mover(s) could be a whole host of other things.

            However, I am not saying that the Abrahamic God is inconsistent with a prime mover. I am saying that the Abrahamic God (well really the Catholic conception) is inconsistent with Classical Theism. (As does Plantinga)

            You make bald assertions but little argument as to WHY one should believe the God of the Bible is not the same as the prime mover. Thought I suspect it is from a Fundamentalist reading of Scripture(because usually that is how it is). You likely take the Anthropomorphisms in the Bible hyper literally and unequivocally and not analogously or metaphorically

            This is a massive burden of proof shift. It is your burden to show that the first mover is God. It is not my burden to show that they are inconsistent. I think Simplicity it inconsistent with the Abrahamic God, and I can argue to that effect, but that was not the point of any of my posts. My point was that you cannot show that the prime mover is the Abrahamic God. Indeed, even ascertaining properties of the prime mover(s) is difficult.

            Classic Theism teaches us God has no obligations to us so He is not obligated to reveal Himself in a way you personally think you would find convince.

            Classical Theism also says God is simple. Simplicity seems to imply that God is impersonal and not all-loving.

            It does seem that a self-aware being has ethical obligations to any self-aware beings that he creates. Classical Theism may disagree, but I think Classical Theists are wrong on that point.

            Sounds like you believe God should be a Theistic Personalist "deity" with obligations to us? I am a strong Atheist toward that "god" as well.

            Again, I think that one has obligations to self-aware beings, if one creates those self-aware beings. You cannot simply call yourself an atheist with regard to a deity with obligations. You start with saying that God exists, that he is self-aware, has autonomy, and that he created the universe and all that is in it. If you agree with those things, it seems that God also has obligations.

            I pretty much can & must in a Top down causality in regards to Being. You are channeling your inner Dawkins here equivocating between Aquinas' first Cause argument with the Kalam Cosmological Argument. For philosophical purposes Aquinas assumes the Universe had no formal beginning when arguing the first cause

            I assumed we were discussing the first mover argument. Are we discussing another? I have not mentioned anything about the universe having a beginning. I have only pointed out that you have failed to derive any properties the first mover may or may not have.

            Anyway if I was not clear I effectively asked you where Aquinas formally argued the God of Abraham and the First cause where one and the same. Because I am skeptical he ever made such an argument(but I could be wrong). Enlighten me if you know. If not go in peace.

            This was my mistake. Aquinas unsuccessfully derives properties of the first mover, but he does not attempt a proof that it is the God of Abraham, although he certainly believes it. I thought I read somewhere that he attempted proof. I was incorrect.

            One day you will have to give your reasons for these conclusions and they will have to be correct philosophical responses.

            I have been around this merry-go-round many times on SN. I have not yet seen a proof that the prime mover is simple or singular nor have my objections been answered to my satisfaction.

            None of this equivocating scientific terms and philosophical ones.

            My objections are philosophical. You are confusing me with someone else. I have yet to see you make a philosophical argument. Usually you just call everyone logical positivists, make a few condescending remarks, and declare victory.

            Read some Brian Davies and disabuse yourself of that notion.

          • Guest

            Sorry I confused you with william.

            ah well.

          • Fred

            Aquinas never claimed that he proved the First Mover to be the God of Abraham. What he did do was establish that human reason can lead us to a First Mover that must have many of the same characteristics the Abrahamic God must have, oneness, omnipotence, pure goodness, transcendence, immateriality, etc. He believed that revelation established that they were the same. Revelation is beyond reason, but Aquinas's arguments establish that it does not contradict reason. Truth is one. Hope that helps.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Aquinas never claimed that he proved the First Mover to be the God of Abraham.

            Correct. I was mistaken.

            that must have many of the same characteristics the Abrahamic God must have, oneness, omnipotence, pure goodness, transcendence, immateriality

            At this he largely failed.

            Revelation is beyond reason, but Aquinas's arguments establish that it does not contradict reason.

            What happens if revelation contradicts reason? Do we revise our understanding of revelation or of our reason?

          • Fred

            But there are ways to falsify metaphysical arguments. If they are based on premises that can be proven false or flaws in the logic can be pointed out, they are thereby falsified. And science, by virtue of what it does, presupposes certain things it cannot itself verify, e.g. that objects exist outside our sensory perception of them, that our senses perceive objects more or less accurately and when they don't they can be corrected by further perception or measurement with instrumentation, that cause and effect exist. Those are all metaphysical ideas, not scientific ones, yet science by its nature implies them.

          • Kraker Jak

            I see that Guest has taken the lead on here in the race for finest ass. I seemed to have dropped behind again. ;-)

          • Guest

            Dude! Stop looking at my arse! That is uncool I am married.

            Not that I blame you........

          • For future consideration: (an opinion) Both Kraker Jak and Guest should set up a competition to ascertain which is the greatest ironist, icon, iconoclast.. To be discussed: One must attempt to have perspective and develop an appreciation for opposing points of view. Perhaps then all possible alternatives should be considered, including who might be the lunatic, liar and lord?
            Silence, you hypocrite, heretic, handmaiden. Don't you understand that you must in the future, no- you must now refrain from this tendency to be theologically scientific, or scientifically philosophical, or....Silence, I said...cannot you understand that there is just no possibility that you can comprehend, control, challenge.the discussion, debate, diatribe.

          • Kraker Jak

            Careful Loreen....your horse may be chomping at the bit to get into the race;-)

          • I have been trying to see all the possible ways other people can see me - whether as a kind saint, or a terrible satanist. I just thought it might be more productive, and less abstract than considering any actuality that is beyond my potential.

          • William Davis

            Never fear, you have a chance to recover. Neil has been in the lead recently, I think ;)

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Makes for an easy trifecta bet

          • Quote: Matter has no relation to ethics that I'm aware of.

            I am attempting to retain some degree of silence - but.
            Does ethics then have anything to do with 'matter'?
            I'm sure you can work out many alternative possibilities, both 'negative' and 'positive' !!!

        • Ladolcevipera

          Why not abandon these old useless definitions for effective ones?

          I'm a bit surprised by the narrow-mindesness of your remark. Aristotle lived over 2400 years ago. Of course theories on matter and on physics in general have changed. He couldn't possibly know what we know now. But his influence on Western thought and civilisation cannot be overestimated. He laid the foundations for the scientific method by emphasising that all philosophy should be grounded in the observation of particulars (and not in Plato's transcendental Forms). That was a huge step to take.
          My point is that every scientist stands on the shoulders of scientists that preceded him. If you want to fully understand where ideas come from, how they were developed, you need to understand them in their wider context. People who do not know anymore
          what the history of ideas, of discoveries is, are mere technicians, not scholars.

          • William Davis

            I never said people should learn about these things as an important part of history. My remark was meant to encourage an embracing of more accurate ideas, especially of something we now know so much about, like matter. I don't see why anyone would use such a definition in a current argument (the author is writing in modern times). This article isn't a history lesson, it's an attempt to argue for something that is believed to be true and intentionally using less accurate definitions than what are accurately available (I can't see how Aristotle's view of matter isn't inaccurate, show me I'm wrong here and I'll rescind, I'm open to argument :)

            People who do not know anymorewhat the history of ideas, of discoveries is, are mere technicians, not scholars.

            I'm pretty sure I demonstrated Aristotle's view on matter (though it was obviously a simplification). I think you are misreading me as being hostile toward Aristotle, but trust me this is not the case. Of course, scientist can come up with all kinds of new discoveries and theories and not know all about the history of science and philosophy. They are still scholars in my view, I'm using this definition of scholar: " a person who has done advanced study in a special field" from Webster.

          • Ladolcevipera

            My remark was meant to encourage an embracing of more accurate ideas,

            And rightly so. But as the Christian idea of God is hugely indebted to especially Plato's (and the so-called neo-platonists') and Aristotle's metaphysics, Christians will always refer to them (and inevitably of course to Aquinas). It is a paradigma that reflects the brilliant ideas of that particular time but should now be interpreted (the importance of hermeneutics!) and translated into the language of our time. However, in order to do so one has to understand WHAT was expressed at the very beginning.

            They are still scholars in my view

            Here we experience the nuances of language. I think there is a difference between a scientist and a scholar. Although they are both specialists in a given branch of knowledge, not all scientists are scholars whereas all scholars are scientists. A scientist can limit himself to his own field of knowledge, know about everything there is to know about it without "looking over the fence". A scholar's view is much broader. He is what we call the intellectual. But then I am not sure what connotation "intellectual" has in the U.S.

          • William Davis

            Webster shows three definitions, none exactly what you describe. I'm guessing the precise definition you are using might be a translation issue. There are several words it can be translated into in Italian, it appears. Words with multiple definitions and multiple translations muddle up communications don't they?

            http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scholar

          • Ladolcevipera

            Lost in translation... but fortunately not completely. It is fascinating to keep track of the origin and the evolution of words. As you know the Greek word σχολη (scholè) originally meant "Leisure time", so only wealthy people could afford to spend time studying... Children usually give you a dirty look when you tell them.

            It looks like the anglo-saxon world has narrowed the meaning of "scholar" to "specialists in a particular branch", although the Oxford dictionary mentions (under 1.1.) "highly educated". http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/scholar
            Here the idea of the intellectual still resonates. French and Italian (and many other languages such as Dutch, German) make the distinction, f.i. scientifique vs savant; scienziato vs dotto, erudito etc..
            P.s. Although my pseudonym Ladolcevipera is Italian, I am not. I liked the combination of dolce (sweet) and vipera (snake) and the reference to La dolce Vita. I am Belgian: Flemish, not French).

          • William Davis

            P.S. In retrospect I realize calling Aristotle's definition "useless" was over the top. Just inaccurate is accurate (pun unintented :).

    • Guest

      There is only one response to your post Will.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQCU36pkH7c

      Your ability to commit fallacies of equivocation are legendary.

      I suppose you think when the ancient Greek Atheist Philosopher Democritus was taking about his theory of Atoms he was literally postulating particles made out of elections, protons and neutrons? No, he was postulating particles so small and fundamental that nothing could be smaller. This concept of an "atom" cannot be applied to what we called Atoms today. Since well "electron, protons etc" are smaller. Thus Atoms aren't really Atoms in sense of Democritus.

      >When you have your own definition of matter, of course no scientific discovery can affect it, you're in your own self built mental model.

      Your positivism is shining threw. We are discussing philosophy and metaphysics here not empirical science.
      Or do you not get that?

      > David Oderberg is a philosopher of ethics and metaphysics, not science. Not sure why I should be impressed or even concerned about what he thinks about philosopher of science, that's it's own specialization.

      Except that is what we are talking about here?

      >All this talk of Aristotle, who was a great philosopher, needs to keep in mind his view of matter...it was bogus.

      Let me guess you think by "motion"/motus Aristotle meant some form or momentum not a potency being made actual?

      I love how Gnu Atheist types treat all arguments as scientific and not philosophical.

      Has nobody explained to you here God's Existence is only known naturally by Philosophy NOT EMPIRICAL SCIENCE?

      Classic Theism buddy. Leave that Theistic Personalist Intelligent Design so called "god" outside buddy.

      Good grief!!!!

      PS Sorry if I am being mean but really.......

      PSS Maybe Will you can save face by changing the subject to some weak polemic against the Bible?

      Geez.....

      • William Davis

        I'm sorry I upset you so much yesterday with my anger at misinformation and fabrications being presented as fact. It's probably best that I don't respond to this post as I don't want to upset you and antagonize you further. Sometimes it is wise to just turn the other cheek and back off, in spite of everything I think Jesus had some wise teachings (that's one reason why their corruption upsets me).

        • Guest

          Very well I accept your apology & I ask for your forgiveness too for being too harsh.

          That having been said to be polite as possible.

          You are treating this as a scientific argument not a philosophical one.

          Thus wither gods exist or not you are making a category mistake.

      • Insults may feel satisfying but they're ineffective communication, BTW. I'm not sure if it's your aim to convince anyone, but, if it is, then civility is a better tool.

        • Guest

          You are correct. Again I will try to rein it in.

          • Alexandra

            Hi Guest, the comment with the video will likely be entirely removed by the moderators because of the commenting guidelines.

          • Guest

            I hope the above corrections are acceptable.

          • Alexandra

            Not quite. The commenting guidelines are in the "MUST READ" section. You are pushing the envelope already by responding as a guest. You can link a video but it should be relevant to the discussion.

            The reason I'm telling you this is because I think you are pretty darn brilliant and I want to hear more of what you have say. I don't want you to get banned. Just know everyone should be made to feel welcome here, and not personally be made fun of.

          • Guest

            I'll remember that as from now on if I continue to post I will try to refrain from the insults. As for posting as "guest" well I value my previously. If the Moderators that be don't like that then I respect their decision.

            I'll read the guideline when I can.

            Also thank you for the compliments.

          • Alexandra

            I had your same concern. You will need to provide an identifier for the moderators. You can look around to see what people have done to maintain privacy and follow the rule. You can also put your disqus comment list on private. (I will remove my comments to you because they are off topic from the OP)

          • William Davis

            Thanks for taking up for me :) I was a bit harsh with "Guest" last post, so I probably had that coming, though perhaps not to the degree (he was obviously quite angry). I didn't intend to upset him that much.
            Insults to my intelligence don't phase me, as I scored extremely high on all testing, held a 4.0 gpa in high school, and graduated from electrical engineering school with a 3.7 gpa, and have done extremely well in a professional setting. Insults don't work if you know for a fact they are untrue.
            All that said, being smart never means you can't be wrong, and being very knowledgeable in some areas makes no implications that you know anything in other areas (and I'll definitely admit that I can be arrogant sometimes).

            Some of my frustration that is probably obvious in my posts is that apologists seem to require me to take up an ancient perspective to follow their arguments. I've done this in the past, but temporarily altering my perspective doesn't help me actually believe something. Arguments would have to be presented in terms of the way I look at the world, which has so far been very effective in doing things (engineering) and discriminating between true and false things (critical thinking). This is why I'm so big on evidence, it seems to be the only way to actually differentiate between true and false things.
            I think the primary evidence for Christians is their personal relationship with God. Of course, from a scientific perspective, this is explained by a combination of belief and the way the mind works. I honestly think I (and many non-religion people) are wired somewhat different, as I tried to have a relationship with Jesus when I was young. It always felt like talking to myself, so I abandoned it by the time I was a teenager. To me, this is the core evidential difference between believers and non-believers...but it seems to require belief before the evidence can appear (at least a loose belief or an openness to the possibility).

          • Guest

            I'll think about that but I assume the moderators can read my E-mail address provided by disqus?

          • Alexandra

            So far the moderators have not asked me for my full name, but I am happy to email it to them if they need it.

            It's staying as "guest" that is a problem. Since you are already commenting, if you change guest to a pseudonym your level of anonymity won't change.
            So if you are comfortable right now, that is what it will be like if you choose "guest1" instead of guest. (Don't use guest1 please, creativity encouraged. ;) ) You just can't use guest, it's confusing for everyone because someone else can comment as guest too.
            Since I've signed up, I find my privacy hasn't been compromised.

          • Guest

            If I come back I will become guest something or I won't come back.

            I just fly by the seat of my paints.

            Peace to you and thank you for your kind words earlier.

            Bye! :-)

    • Dear William This comment was deleted from SN yesterday.

      From SN: One can always count on Gilbert and Sullivan for a rousing finale, full of words and music and signifying nothing.".

      This quote is actually a 'creative' adaptation from Shakespeare's Play - Macbeth. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... There is a link to the verse at the end of the article.

      1. "full of sound and fury and signifying nothing"

      2. Faulkner's- The Sound and the Fury,

      The above are 1. original excerpt from the quote and 2.another example of the creative use the idea has been put to.

      Perhaps the evil overlord can understand from this, as an example, that the
      creative imagination is, I agree, confess, delight to say, most 'certainly' very different from mathematics, whether or not in the long run such mathematics will be proven to have the relation to logic, that it is 'purported' to have. and does not also entail some form of 'synthetic a priori' thinking (Based on my limited understanding of course).

      You know, guys, I really prefer this way of thinking, that is non-linear thinking, the jumble of a Heraclitus world in the hope of coming to some kind of loving synthesis, to the examples of eloquence I meet with when I visit this blog. So in regard to William Davis saying: "Loreen is in sentence two and in a poor position to even be there" perhaps I have some sort of consolation in the belief that computers, despite all the conjectures, will never be able to duplicate
      all the forms of individual thought within the sphere of the various
      logics used by individuals. It is this uniqueness that I find
      particularly valuable within such 'disciplines' as literature (not a
      scare quote - perhaps you know of Austin's with Searle's distinction
      between 'mention and use'), and even if they become capable of writing
      'the silence and the stillness' perhaps I can still justifiably
      'believe' or have 'faith' that those computers will never be able to
      'know everything', not even 'God' (scare quote was intentional) .

      The important thing, I believe is to keep an open mind, so that one does
      not becomes a 'closed system', if you will allow the poetic metaphor.
      Please note that the 'ramblings' of Nietzsche, clarified a long
      tradition, by stating that all of language is metaphorical, or based on
      analogy, -essentially- (the word used here in a sense different from
      that used by Plato within the context of definition and the perhaps
      futile search for univocity - is this type of thought possible within
      math?). . I also believe that within this poetic context, and
      imaginatively used, with an importance placed on meaning rather than
      syntax, sense rather than reference, the awareness of concepts such as
      self-reference and incompleteness, offer some kind of guarantee that
      language is not 'necessarily' BOO! a closed system. As long as we have
      Wittgenstein's living language, as a means of communication with the
      'other', as long as; we have equivocations, or language usage that he
      describes metaphorically, by the use of the term 'games'. - elements
      within language that can be translatable within different contexts,
      there is the possibility of new discoveries and future development..
      (Ironically, attempting to discover how language works has been a most
      difficult experiment to take on with respect to the present discussion
      of 'God or Jesus' ) - maybe you should be scared at this last use or
      mention!

      So I don't feel I have to find any difficulty about being
      outside of all your 'systems' after all. I believe there have been
      some studies that have given 'some demonstration' that poets are
      actually the most pragmatic, empirical, ''idealists, that it is
      possible to find within this limited sphere, called Gaia. And like Blake
      and Nietzsche I am quite comfortable that a kind of madness is needed to
      pay so much attention to particulars rather than universals. Despite
      my praise for the gods of mathematics and theology, there is
      hopefully some truth in the possibility that there is a kind of
      logical foundation to be found in the seemingly illogical patterns of
      associative thought. that can somehow bring us back down to earth, as
      well as provide the imaginative basis that even Einstein found to be
      vital in the development of his ideas.

      Thank you, all you guys, and
      Geena and Susan. I am just so fortunate that the many failures in my
      life, have provided for me the opportunity to explore so many different
      fields of human endeavor. May I leave you with a reference to the poem
      --- Invictus. Invictus Poem by William Ernest Henley - Poem Hunter
      (Could not paste the link. My apologies)

      Thus I have had my final word, which I intuit is not particularly welcome, let alone appreciates on these 'sites/sights'. But I leave with great appreciation of what I have learn from the 'conversation???). And this series seems appropriate as a farewell and acceptance that I really do believe that I understand who g/God really is. The best to you and your family.

      On Saturday, July 18, 2015 7:44 AM, Loreen Lee wrote:

      From SN: One can always count on Gilbert and Sullivan for a rousing finale, full of words and music and signifying nothing.".

      This quote is actually a 'creative' adaptation from Shakespeare's Play - Macbeth. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... There is a link to the verse at the end of the article.

      1. "full of sound and fury and signifying nothing"

      2. Faulkner's- The Sound and the Fury,

      The above are 1. original excerpt from the quote and 2.another example of the creative use the idea has been put to.

      Perhaps
      the evil overlord can understand from this, as an example, that the
      creative imagination is, I agree, confess, delight to say, most
      'certainly' very different from mathematics, whether or not in the long
      run such mathematics will be proven to have the relation to logic, that
      it is 'purported' to have. and does not also entail some form of
      'synthetic a priori' thinking (Based on my limited understanding of
      course).

      You know, guys, I really prefer this way of thinking,
      that is non-linear thinking, the jumble of a Heraclitus world in the
      hope of coming to some kind of loving synthesis, to the examples of
      eloquence I meet with when I visit this blog. So in regard to William
      Davis saying: "Loreen is in sentence two and in a poor position to even
      be there" perhaps I have some sort of consolation in the belief that
      computers, despite all the conjectures, will never be able to duplicate
      all the forms of individual thought within the sphere of the various
      logics used by individuals. It is this uniqueness that I find
      particularly valuable within such 'disciplines' as literature (not a
      scare quote - perhaps you know of Austin's with Searle's distinction
      between 'mention and use'), and even if they become capable of writing
      'the silence and the stillness' perhaps I can still justifiably
      'believe' or have 'faith' that those computers will never be able to
      'know everything', not even 'God' (scare quote was intentional) .

      The
      important thing, I believe is to keep an open mind, so that one does
      not becomes a 'closed system', if you will allow the poetic metaphor.
      Please note that the 'ramblings' of Nietzsche, clarified a long
      tradition, by stating that all of language is metaphorical, or based on
      analogy, -essentially- (the word used here in a sense different from
      that used by Plato within the context of definition and the perhaps
      futile search for univocity - is this type of thought possible within
      math?). . I also believe that within this poetic context, and
      imaginatively used, with an importance placed on meaning rather than
      syntax, sense rather than reference, the awareness of concepts such as
      self-reference and incompleteness, offer some kind of guarantee that
      language is not 'necessarily' BOO! a closed system. As long as we have
      Wittgenstein's living language, as a means of communication with the
      'other', as long as; we have equivocations, or language usage that he
      describes metaphorically, by the use of the term 'games'. - elements
      within language that can be translatable within different contexts,
      there is the possibility of new discoveries and future development..
      (Ironically, attempting to discover how language works has been a most
      difficult experiment to take on with respect to the present discussion
      of 'God or Jesus' ) - maybe you should be scared at this last use or
      mention!

      So I don't feel I have to find any difficulty about being
      outside of all your 'systems' after all. I believe there have been
      some studies that have given 'some demonstration' that poets are
      actually the most pragmatic, empirical, ''idealists, that it is
      possible to find within this limited sphere, called Gaia. And like Blake
      and Nietzsche I am quite comfortable that a kind of madness is needed to
      pay so much attention to particulars rather than universals. Despite
      my praise for the gods of mathematics and theology, there is
      hopefully some truth in the possibility that there is a kind of
      logical foundation to be found in the seemingly illogical patterns of
      associative thought. that can somehow bring us back down to earth, as
      well as provide the imaginative basis that even Einstein found to be
      vital in the development of his ideas.

      Thank you, all you guys, and
      Geena and Susan. I am just so fortunate that the many failures in my
      life, have provided for me the opportunity to explore so many different
      fields of human endeavor. May I leave you with a reference to the poem
      --- Invictus. Invictus Poem by William Ernest Henley - Poem Hunter

      • Phil Rimmer

        " poets are actually the most pragmatic, empirical, ''idealists, that it is possible to find ..."

        Read "The Age of Wonder" by Richard Holmes to discover how intimately poetry and science were joined, from Erasmus Darwin's runaway best sellers Zoonomia and The Botanical Garden to Humphry Davy's poetical career. Shelley, Keats, Wordsworth, Coleridge were all excited and engaged by the deep space of Herschel's universe, Coleridge acknowledged as one of the best brains at the meetings of the Royal Society.

        Its not science that promoted anti-religious thought but poets who had the breadth of imagination to conceive of no religion. Shelley was a passionate atheist but the others variously were Unitarians or Deists. Even pious Blake shunned religion to go back to God.

        From Omar Khayyam through Bonneville and Shelley to Linton Kwesi Johnson atheist poets built purpose and meaning for ordinary folk.

        The greatest poetry is only available to those who have an expectation of total loss.

        • Thanks to you, actually all of you, for helping me to become 'aware' of who I really am. You all will be included in the final segment of PortalsofParadox. It's title is 'Without Witness'. If life is not a journey of self-discovery you possibly are missing all of the 'devil's' in all of the details in all of that mathematics, etc. whatever it is that you are studying. Blake is my favorite poet as an individual. His 'marriage of heaven and hell' predates Nietzsche's 'beyond good and evil' But this is not a concept that I believe can be easily understood by the 'many'. When it comes to appreciating 'poetry', you really must understand the person as well as his work, in both philosophy and literature, and life.. And this, unfortunately, is something that is perhaps the most difficult study of all; indeed in a way it can be thought of as 'congruent' (to use a logical term) with 'ethics'. If you think about both Blake and Nietzsche they are saying 'the same thing'. But you have to 'understand'. I in reading a Tweet through John S. to Longeran I ran across his saying: When it comes to understanding you have to be scientific. So that 'crystallized' the adage of Heidegger that has been going round my mind- and that is to become aware of 'how' (scientifically) we 'think'. You have to 'see' the world 'from the 'other's point of view' for one thing. But do you not see - so many of these possible principles have already been introduced within the 'religions' of the world.

          I have achieved I believe what I came here for. I have tested the arguments in this series - yes, I do love my interpretation of the relationship of modern to ancient philosophy, i.e. Hellenistic thought, which definitely acknowledges the 'Frankenstein' character of the concepts, if that refers to the many jumbles of perhaps unavoidable within a pure conceptual analysis. I have also gained greater understanding, appreciation, and confidence that all the years I have put into studying the 'greats', which I understand now within my musings during so many of these arguments, has not been a futile exercise. But to tell you the truth, I would not trust this forum. for a presentation of any of these ideas. I agree with Nietzsche and some post-moderns that there is a need to be 'objective' in presenting these ideas within the lived context of a story, as a most 'productive' way of placing the 'universal' within an association with the 'particular'. Hopefully, I will have enough years left in my life to work this project out in detail; and search within the more open structures of the novel.for further clarification. Thank you again, William. It has been wonderful to find you as a friend.

          • Alexandra

            Hi Loreen, I had problems with the editing function too. Also, you can delete your comment yourself and repost.

          • Thanks Alexandra. I tried several times. Spent more than an hour on it this morning. I've done the best I could. Am not going to spend more time on it. If it's the system and not me, I guess Brandon will be OK with it!!!!

            And thank you for the thumbs up. Hope I bring out an occasional smile!!

          • Alexandra

            Thanks Loreen and you do make me smile. :) And I love your play on words although you are usually too clever for me. And "hypocrite, heretic, handmaiden" is quite a turn of phrase! ;)
            But mainly, it sounds like you have experienced many things, good and bad, and I am glad you are using your voice. Be well, Loreen.

          • Thanks so much Alexandra. It's amazing. Here I am leaving just as I have met you, perhaps my first 'female' friend on line here. And thanks for drawing attention to the 'turn' in the phrase. Yes, that's a true progression, hopefully. Interesting. I use a lot of alliteration in my writing, in order to convey some cognitive difficulties of 'insanity- the mind/body problem, philosophically. Have had no need to continue with the rewrites for hears, not therapeutically, and I understand now that I have resolved difficulties, even become aware with this series, especially with my background with the church. So religion, science, and philosophy. I have no difficulties. From my personal life perspective, at least, I can just let it be!!!

            So it seems that I am actually getting back into it, I guess and as you just pointed out to me, almost subconsciously. It's been interesting to find what word are alliterations- their commonality, which I have often wonder whether a linguist could pick up on and find some explanation for this phenomena which I have found quite amazing at times. Anyway, thanks to the discussions, today, with you guys I feel I am leaving in 'good spirits' - from my change to talk with some good spirits, etc. etc. etc. - to be on topic, of course! We must keep things 'religious'!!! Thanks again.

          • loreenlee

            Hi Alexandra. Was hoping to find that comment you made with respect to ?? hypocrite, heretic, handmaiden, and realized I was referring to the liar, lunatic lord. In my book, the women however have a dual nature, so I should have, in the including of the madgadelene with the madonna, perhaps have said harlot/handmaiden! I've done my rewrites. Am going to be late for a celebration of my daughter's birthday. I talk too much indeed. Hopefully I will never be published. Love, to you. Loreen.

          • Alexandra

            Very scripturally astute Loreen. :)
            No harlots here of course! ;)
            Just Handmaidens.

            So yes, Our Madonna was the handmaiden of the Lord which caused a significant birthday.

            (You are right that we have to contend good and the bad of our natures - yet we were created good. We strive for the good.)

            Aw, cheers to your daughter, and much love to you too, Loreen.

        • Sorry. Thought I was talking to William. Please know then that I appreciate that you have done things, like actually talking with Dennett. (I disagree with his idea that there is some kind of one to one correlation between a neuron and idea, and stuff like that). One must have a better appreciation of the 'complexity' within the universe, before attempting to formulate 'simple' solutions and philosophical 'generalities' !!!! can I say grin grin or at least LOL! Take care.

          • Phil Rimmer

            No worries, Loreen.

            But Dennett would agree about poets and I suggest that it takes a poet to truly thrill that all this rollercoaster mind boggling stuff from sonnets through sonatas to sex, is the exclusive property of that most royal of jellies, the most astonishingly complex thing in the universe that we each own.

            There is no mere neuron about this. No rainbows have been unwoven. It is the symphony of its glittering parts, in concert, transports us to the familiar and nameless strange places and on into tomorrow.

          • Thanks Phil. Nice to see you wax poetic for a change. Yes, I'm glad in a way that I was born female, if there is any truth in the per-judicial generality that women's minds are more attuned to 'relationships', while you men have the essential genius to intuit, know, and understand the 'objective'. (Perhaps there is some Darwinian explanation for any truth that can be found in this. (Have you ever seen a comic/philosopher who gives a lecture where he compares one bronze statue of a male head to another of a female. He had me in stitches).

            Yes, I really want to lighten up a bit. But at least I have done my duty, I can now place modern thought within a comparative context of Thomistic/Platonic/neo-Platonic/Aristotelean thought. I have hope then, that within possible centuries or even eons of time before us, today's 'visions' will be able to be placed within a comparable historical context.

            Thus I do hope the project of the writer of this series find some success in sorting out the apparent contradictions. Indeed, I am so sympathetic with the need and purpose of doing so. It's something like the challenge of looking back at one's life, and bringing all that experience within a needed integral relationship.

            As you may be aware by now, my interest is in the 'personal'
            which until the recent secularization, (and the continuing unfortunate practice of objectification of the individual subject) has indeed been the province, of myth, religion, and art. This does not discount my appreciation of your perspective, and please know that I have put much effort into my attempts to thoroughly understand your higher level of erudition.

            Just, in conclusion, (to be philosophical for a moment) - yes your poetry reminded me of the Music of the Spheres, and the Pre-established harmony. Perhaps it's time to wake up and realize that we are not necessarily 'living in a dream world'! The blessings of the bees be upon you!!!

          • Phil Rimmer

            But those chrystaline spheres reduce stars and planets to pinpricks and makes a claustrophobic universe. When you see Jupiter through a $150 telescope so rounded by its partial illumination and the little line of moons you understand for the first time what deep space means. It shocked the Romantic poets. It changed the aesthetic to something wilder, no longer clipped classical but real heart thumping romance.

            The real music

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3fqE01YYWs

            I live on the edge of the city with miles of great countryside just there. In the last decade planting of wild flowers has brought bees happily back. Post picnic and dozing they are an almost perfect pleasure.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lujZlsMn-48

            We are wired for nature and that is what the Romantic Poets found by the act of looking without presumption.

          • The sound of music! Does that sound around that 'unidentified' planet really exist? Yes the sound of silence - a koan! Spent the eighties with music - Kierkegaard thought of music as the universalization of the sensual. I have known people who belong to religious organizations centering on 'sound'. And is the word spoken or written????? (That where Post-modernism and the computer are taking us - grin grin)
            Gee. If this keeps up I may end up not leaving this site after all. Perhaps there is no such thing as a vocation or even discernment with respect to my choices in life!!

            Thank you for taking what I said as a constructive opportunity for 'enrichment' There should be neither 'negative or positive'., although I am most aware of the environmental movement, and indeed the kids' dad is now into that! So actually circles work well for me, - even illogical ones!!
            I guess you haven't had a conversation like this for a long time. Neither have I. Could this be called 'philosophy'????? Just 'wonder'-ing. What's going on in your mind, right now? What is causing, provoking, 'prompting' these ideas? After all, you are not usually this poetic, are you? How do you respond to individuals, and on what level are these responses worked out? How much are your thoughts under your conscious control? What is the purpose of this 'argument' Yes - it can be classified as an 'argument' - it has a direction - yes????!!!!

          • Phil Rimmer

            "I guess you haven't had a conversation like this for a long time. Neither have I."

            No. It makes a very pleasant change.

            "Could this be called 'philosophy'?????"

            I hope not because I'm pants at it.

            "How much are your thoughts under your conscious control?"

            I wrote a poem about it a couple of years ago, to find out what felt true. Some found it familiar. I described it as being an actor at every moment entering the scene. I am given my part to read at the last second and things flow. I am pleased or surprised or scornful of what I have to say. I am always amazed at where this stuff comes from. It seems to come from behind a veil, the same place I dispatch all my daily cares and experiences to. But here's the thing, I rehearse. I get scripts to read ahead of time, to see how it feels. I don't ever invent before my very eyes, but when it seems wrong I wait for a rewrite and again from nowhere a possibly better version appears.

            All the words put into my mouth come from an unconscious me. It just happens. Conscious me rolls it around and forms value judgements, good/bad, unclear, unfunny, crass, tasteless, and I wait trying to snatch the thing at a hint of it appearing. In rehearsing I train the unconscious beast and somewhat, sometimes bend it to my will.

          • Hey! You really put that question to good use? And you did respond to my inquire which was a question into human psychology. Did an experiment on this myself, trying to figure out and testing, (while attempting to consider whether even both intellect and will were material or immaterial) whether there could be any kind of reality behind the 'idea'? of the Holy Ghost! Or whether the Holy Ghost might be the imagination, that subconscious which could be identified with Dennet's neurons, (from your description I think you have given evidence that there is not a simple one to one correlation????!!!) You see I have learned to adopt my training as an actor to psychological and philosophical 'thought experiments' - not quite identical to what is usually associated with this term, granted - but I also extend concepts like this, another form of experiment. Some of them get me into trouble, with the result that my comments have been criticized by the scientists as being often 'incoherent' - and that I have used them for my own purposes - I have given warning not to read my comments, in some instances, but I did intend to try these experiments with a community context, because the thinking is different usually as we adjust to the world, from a 'private' personal meditative state for instance. (Different thought processes, very often, as your comment suggests to me, that you too have an awareness of).

            In other words I have been extended what I have learned through Buddhist meditative and mindfulness experiences.

            I am most pleased that so many people are now becoming involved with this, even within the therapeutic context. You see even the idea of prayer, contemplation and meditation has taken on a 'changed' context, (which the Pope would not agree with with respect to Buddhist practice) - but I don't want to get into this more. The point is I just (for some reason) wondered how this idea would 'resonate' (yes sound can be associated with thought, of course) with you.

            The following link is from Shakespeare's As you Like It - a play I was in touring American universities in the early sixties.

            Enjoy: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/all-the-world-s-a-stage/

            I gave up acting thought, because I wanted to learn to be 'me'. There can possibly be many different levels of 'dissociative thought'!!! from what they call people pleasing, and being under some control of others, to not having adequate conscious awareness to the situation. (This latter is too delicate to get involved with here, yes? and indeed these concepts could be considered primarily 'religious' of New Age 'spiritualism' the latter perhaps not always 'disciplined', the former, perhaps too 'externally' disciplines???? We'll work it out!!!!! Enjoy the poem.

          • William Davis

            Mindfulness meditation is serious, mainstream, medicine at this point with an amazing track record and tons of scientific evidence. Science is siding with us over the Pope on that one :)

          • I'm still working on the 'logic' of this one. You see, I have a very busy mind, perhaps too busy, sometimes. And so I'm always 'jumping around' incoherent from one of my outstanding philosophical puzzles to another, depending on what evidence, translate circumstance, event I run into.

            But in the late nineties I did make a very good move, by seeking out the Mahayana 'monastery'. I have spoken of that to you. But I am still considering the positive and negative with respect to when or with regard to what effect is produced by either blocking out the activity of the 'verbal' mind (the intellect) by the will? as the other aspect of the reflective consciousness? -. You see these are speculations still. Or whether it is best to direct the will (Descarte's homunculus) to a more precise awareness and direction of conscious thought. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homunculus_ the argument. which is the Catholic priority, because after all Jesus too comes from God the Father. They are more consistent than some atheists often give them credit for!!! I will not go into some of the details that have come to mind, but hopefully this will give you some impetus to consider these possibilities - after all independent individual thought and questions and answers is what we are aiming for....right????!!!! IMHO. after all this is serious!

          • William Davis

            But I am still considering the positive and negative with respect to when or with regard to what effect is produced by either blocking out the activity of the 'verbal' mind (the intellect) by the will

            I've only read books on meditation by scientists/doctors. What you describe is "doing it wrong" according to them (at least for mindfulness meditation). Mindfulness is simply about controlling attention, and the practice usually involves focusing the attention on some aspect of the body (typically breathing to start with). When thoughts interrupt one simply needs to remember to refocus the attention on the body in the present moment, fighting the thoughts with the "will" causes the mind to get caught up in them, to a certain extent. This seems to work really, really, well for me, but now we are pitting a scientist against your Buddhists monks on meditation, lol. The scientist was trained by some serious Buddhists, but I can't be sure he hasn't modified the techniques in some way to make them more effective (possibly). Here's the scientist:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Kabat-Zinn

            His Buddhist teachers were Thich Nhat Hanh and Zen Master Seung Sahn, who have a serious reputation.

            Tons of videos on youtube, and he's done work for many big companies like Google. Believe it or not, many tech companies like Google allow you to meditate on company time (limited amounts of course). They have proven it increases productivity.

            http://www.wired.com/2013/06/meditation-mindfulness-silicon-valley/

          • It's OK. Am not even going to take the time to check out the videos. I have no disagreement with either the scientists or the monks. This is the process I learned. We may have a difference with respect to definitions of Mindfulness training, and Meditation.
            What I spoke about with respect to a conscious control - could perhaps have been better phrased as a conscious awareness, which is indeed what I was taught and what I practice - and think of a meditation.
            Mindfulness is I believe an awareness of whatever the mind is focused, on, and also the development of these powers within the Four Ways and the The Eight Paths- Are these the right terms - it's been years! So I have been attempting to develop the scope of this practice throwing in hopefully what could be considered as a little scientific!! observation, or if that's not acceptable, maybe just plain 'people watching' - !!! All is OK. Am going to stay out of trouble, and I may be better off writing, than attempting to be a scientist!!!!

          • Phil Rimmer

            Excellent. Fellow thesp!

            I indeed referenced Shakespeare and made him my alter ego script writer.(Presumptuous, moi?)

            I titled it Will and I, punning elsewhere on the idea of taking willful control of what I said by this mode of rehearsal until he delivers the goods. The last two lines-

            "But, if we are to move deftly across the world’s stage

            Will needs to see my rehearsals, feel my agonising, to sweeten his script."

          • So this is a Willful adoption of a Will by the Will, to serve the purpose of some alter ego, or one of many possible kinds of 'other'. (Another complex subject here) I'm going to be generous with the psychology of Catholicism, (I am still in the process of investigating, researching, critiquing this, as I learn). From the use of saints, and even angels as role models, (would you prefer batman), to the more pristine, and higher echelons of ideas and beings, the Holy Ghost, (and the Gods of truth and goodness) as well can be the ultimate abstraction of such needs we identify with developing consciousness. Indeed, I believe it can be demonstrated that most thought arises through a greater level of abstraction than what evolves from it, through the acquaintance of more and more 'evidence' or acquaintance with 'things of the world'. This idea or actually possibility of this perhaps even inherent process of modeling behavior, could be both an explanation, justification or reason, why the idea that we are made in God's image, is the version adopted by Christianity, while if a modern would speak of a similar process, he would think of himself as some kind of artist, or creator, developing an idea of a higher power to his understanding. (12 steps here --- at least!!!)
            So actually, this suggests that both movements are possible and perhaps even 'realities' - and hopeful that this does not disturb any possible atheist aversion, this characterizes both what is called the Nicene Creed procession, and is fundamental to the scriptural texts, -no one goes to the Father except through me, and also many references to the Holy Spirit - we must get the real dope on this one from Francis - I've recently heard the spirit referred to simply as reason, which is more in keeping with Kant's reason, as distinct from understanding. (I will find coherence in all of these idea....I will, I will, I will.....) Let's see what do I want: Can't think. I have to learn more of those letter words!!!!

            By the way, I'm serious about not wanting to be an 'actor'. Existentialists like Sartre refer to it as 'authenticity', and I think it could also be called 'sainthood', or 'wholeness' or 'holiness', but now we have to consider: are not the uses of concepts today just as various and confused as what I find within Classical Theism. (If you have time, Google Jacques Derrida: trace, deconstruction, of course, and Identity and Differ-a-nce - the theory has political implications.) Repent - you sinner - change- transform yourself - and don't let language speak you!!!!

          • Phil Rimmer

            " I'm serious about not wanting to be an 'actor'. Existentialists like Sartre refer to it as 'authenticity',"

            I know it and describe it as flow.

            I rather dislike religions and "philosophies" that have undue focus on personal salvation, fulfillment, improvement. These seem narcissistic and surely a signal that you are not doing it (living) right in the first place, that you should need such remedial action.

            Being an actor taught me above anything that great satisfaction was got from mutual creation and problem solving and I have sought out those situations ever since, wherever. They have never failed to be wholly satisfying. My declaring as atheist was because I wanted to live a clarified and effective moral life, which was the core of such an outward facing life.

            As an atheist my exemplar of a healthy religion are the UK Quakers, utterly committed to the idea that they themselves are fully equipped to be moral authors and are required to daily use that capacity. They are in the vanguard of Enlightenment moral thinking.

            Our (increasingly kind) cultures are our greatest achievements and this is being increasingly helped by learning NOT to be dogmatist, NOT to be idealists even. Solutions are not possible without knowing what the problem is and an open mind may better find a good to build on.

            The evolution that counts now is cultural evolution. Individuals grow as their culture grows around them and the interplay ever shifts the direction of Better as harms and boons get fixed/used and reappear elsewhere.

            Betterism not Idealism.

            Making Better is the therapy of living fully.

          • Thanks so much for the reply. I shall attempt to expand on this, in relation to my experience, without giving direct quotations or reference to what I am referring to. OK? I think you will be able to get the 'associations'!!

            Yes, I have commented on this blog that what I learned at Theater School I have found to be possibly more valuable, at least for me, than what people often search to find within the study of psychology. (See this is a conjecture. Was the expression used the best choice to make? Could the sentence benefit from a re-write? In attempting to understand the distinction between empathy and sympathy, for instance, possibly the imagination required for the 'identity' needed in order to 'project', hopefully in as 'accurate' a way, as possible, into the life of another, in order to understand them has been a very valuable idea gained from this early training. You see these words such as 'identity' do not necessarily, or only apply to logic - Language is far more complex than we are generally aware of within our daily usage. The kind of research we were taught to do at theater school, for instance, involved not only going out and speaking to people for instance who have some kind of analogous relationship to the role we were chosen to play, but also a self-analysis, or going into one's own experience in order to understand better, and more 'consciously' - so that through 'imitation' you could 'portray' the characterization required. A Post-Modern has more fully explored what is involved in mimetic understanding and learning. How we learn, particularly, as children, for instance. What is most important is the conscious effort to develop greater and greater 'awareness' (a concept perhaps that is more 'incorporate' than what possibly are limitations within the idea and lived experience involved in the use of 'intellect' alone. So - yes, even here, perhaps in exploring relationships in this way, my 'understanding' could thus include the possibility that an emphasis on the 'rational' understand -alone? - is placed in a balance within such 'projects' of the post-moderns as 'making things concrete' and 'getting rid of the logos'.....
            Back in the 90's when I was writing the first draft of Portals, the personal 'motivation' was primarily that of therapy, (and indeed that has been an influential part of my interest and participation in this blog), but I also hoped to be scientific about it, and often tested what I was at the time writing, out with other people, so in a way their influence was purposely made part of the writing project.
            So, I'm wondering here whether, if indeed I attempt further rewrites of the book, (in a way it's already out of hand, and to begin again it would be a completely different book) - like life, always a 'work in progress', I should keep in touch. I find it remarkable that I have for instance 'run into you', at this time. Carl Jung's observations on synchronicity, what are referred to as coincidence, and even some of the ways people consider events, etc. to be called 'miraculous', can be understood within within the framework, that Wittgenstein described when he noted, that many of the experiences we encounter are indeed related to the way we 'see the world'. So, yes, I can even go back to the bible, and find exemplifications of this 'truth' both through word, and deed.

            In this respect even science perhaps has it's value as well as its limitations. The critical-historic method for instance 'revealed' so much to me, as it placed the 'subjective'; within an 'objective' framework. But I also wanted to ask sometimes: 'Yes, but don't you see the wisdom in that' - or "It's important to understand the human relationship between (may I say) x and y, in this passage. So yes, living one's life can in a way be thought of as the writing of a 'divine manuscript'. (Some of my 'scare quotes' - are possibly indeed given as a warning not to get delve too deeply into the concept - and thus are indeed hopefully mention over use? In other words, I do attempt to be cautious with respect to my choice of words - but there is truth that what any author or individual in life says, is dependent also on the interpretations of the reader and the listener.

            So. yes. I'm still basically an actor, or possible I could be considered to be some kind of chameleon. But these are the 'external' 'manifestations', explorative, hopefully, as a learning experience within the context of attempting to be a 'better' person as you say. The difficulty here, is that, as I hope to see the limitations in what I do, (thus they are exploratory) I cannot have, I feel, any assurance as to the 'effect' of what I do. So - personal fulfillment, salvation, improvement - yes I have hopefully reflected on all of these orientations. Expect no reward. Hope for no 'punishment' - perhaps? But I do like the poem Invictus. (there are many possibly interpretations, so yes, looking for, and thinking one understands another's motivations can be a very -self-deceptive enterprise.)

            But do you not see, that even the above 'manifesto' can be consider with a context as being some kind of 'idealism'. Yes, I would like to understand the implications of say, Leibniz's monads, etc. etc. What is so valuable with respect to Kant's structural critique, is that there can be found within it an attempt to find a relationship between the real of empiricism and the ideas/ideals of our inner life, which are within many interpretative possibilities 'transcendental' .

            I know not whether to say or to leave. I just have not the time to do 'everything'....the ability to learn 'everything'.....the capacity to be.....

            I am so happy that you have 'revealed' some of your thoughts and experience to me. Take care.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Goodness, you make a puzzle out of life, it seems.

            As a curious empiricist not one piece of my life nor any of my actions are based on the philosophical musings of others or the ideologies people build upon them. Philosophies may be interesting and provide a discipline of thinking of which I wholly approve, but unlike science no one gets to establish that this or that philosophy is wrong (especially not now that Post Modernism declares all values and meanings relative). Philosophical ideas once uttered cannot, it seems, be consigned to history (like phlogiston) but remain to be adopted as personal pets.

            Modern psychology, by contrast is cool, clear, evidential, contingent, daily revised and improving. The stories it is now telling us are both revelatory and reasonable. More to the point it reveals the astonishing richness and variety of our types, the modes of our cognitions and the complexities of our relationships. Again science has reduced nothing but revealed a huge natural variety that can only aid true understanding and compassion. More, it creates a platform from which we can build better compassionate, cultures that better exploits the richness of its talents.

            Art? Art is a psychology experiment we perform on ourselves Only we know the outcome but through it we understand ourselves in new and interesting ways.

            Exactly as you found, acting was an aid for me in understanding others. Very nerdy and still socially somewhat maladroit, I learned to intuit minds, what made folks happy and sad even when they were closed up. This is hard wired in now and even though there are some emotional expressions that (apparently) still confound me, mild Aspie that I am, I am very likely to blub at the end of Meg Ryan movies. This can be deeply embarrassing.

            I hope you will continue. It seems we can never run out of new insights. For me, they only increase in number as I get older.

          • Thank you Phil for confiding in me your relationship to the condition you refer to as 'being an Aspie'. I am so grateful for Google. With this knowledge I will not press you with what I shall, within this context, appreciate as a justifiable description of my above attempt at satire.. Yes, I think there can be some benefit in thinking of life as a puzzle to solve. If you go to my Disqus page and in any way are patient enough to understand what the link is about, you will no doubt have a better understanding of our commonalities, although the book describes a process in which even the original determinations are re-written, and re-interpreted.
            Yes. I shall continue, despite the possibility that my efforts are not always, or even usually, understood. If you did Google my son's name, you will note that his occupation gives me, as a self-appointed secretary, an opportunity to augment my interest in the subject by forwarding information that may be helpful to him. I am going to erase reference to him, at the end of the day.

            So, my pleasure again in meeting you. I am indeed comfortable with where I am within this life, and once again feel justified that I have made a good choice. This series confirms that, for it has given me an answer with respect to what I was 'looking for'. with respect to AT philosophy. Thank you again. May you have good health, and happiness, and enjoy your conversations on both SN and EN. This, you have confirmed, is not my forum. With love and hugs, and -really- good health.

          • I'm back. Had my coffee, sat on the bench and waited for any of my friends to come along for a bit of conversation. My usual morning indulgence. I spoke with Kevin and Ed. Mission accomplished.

            But I couldn't stop thinking that perhaps I did not address the issue of 'idealism' which you raised. And I thought of the title of Nietzsche's book: The Gay Science. Sudden insight, revelation, call it what you will. That is, I thought what I am attempting to do. How did I have such 'certainty' (Cartesian) with respect to this 'truth'. I thought perhaps the mind is 'like' a library. Perhaps on the original reading of the book, before filing it away, I had absorbed more - (unconsciously) that I did with any degree of awareness. And the trigger happened where suddenly it made sense within a general or revelatory context. There was no feeling that I had to go back to the book to understand because this new familiarization of the concept alone, could be related more consciously to my own on going attempts to - to use just one of many possible expressions - understand 'how' I think. In the book, I even contemplate whether it is possible to be 'scientific' about love.

            So that expression - expect no reward, hope for no punishment. Another inadequacy, if you consider the possibility that we need to recognize to what degree we bring on our own punishment, even within our interpretation of what others say, considering what I am attempting to suggest here, that language can be considered to have an 'infinity' of possible associations. What do you choose - an absolute truth - or an infinity of possibilities, or within the language of Nietzsche, - .there is no truth, only interpretation. Or perhaps both are reality-idealities! Kant's point was after all that we cannot know the -noumena - and may I suggest - whatever that 'means- it is 'really' the will as those who have come after him suggest. (Philosophy in the last couple of hundred years).

            But then I think again of how the mathematicians and scientists on SN might have reason to chastise me, for the mere thought of interpretating Godel's incompleteness theorem within a 'qualitative' application. And I find myself almost laughing out loud in considering whether or not this is a personal self-referential thought or a 'principle' (even as a recognition of a limitation) that could be given a wider context.

            So that's what philosophers do- right. They 'think' too much. So do these continual musings, (Can the Holy Ghost be thought of as a development of the idea of the Greek gods, we call muses, or is there possibly a greater sense of 'infinity' or 'absoluteness' involved in the relation of language to being/consciousness). You can see why the scare quote. These concepts are not used here within any conscious state of philosophical responsibility.

            So if they speak of people's monkey minds, maybe it's the philosophers who can be called the baboons, even though perhaps the most idealistic among them are by profession mathematicians..

            Perhaps we can find relationships between 'all' of these concepts, and also be universalists when it comes to the idea/reality of salvation, however you choose to use or interpret that word, and (to steal a concept from Christianity) even descend to the depths
            of 'hell 'in order to transform the images and concepts, the ideals and realities, the negations and extinctions of conceptual and lived experience.

            Can we 'rid the world' of idealism? I leave this with you to philosophize upon, and perhaps you can even spice up this food for thought with a little bit of humor!

          • Phil Rimmer

            Idealism is already fading in say European politics. Pragma is replacing dogma (though, not fast enough in my view).

            Idealism is based on a mistrust of people to do the better thing. I trust people to be on average a pretty decent bunch. If asked to lay all prejudice aside (!) and decide on the basis of the facts of the matter more often than not the better choice will be made. If it is not and they were indeed wrong in their choice they stand a very good chance of not making an error second time. I trust to these quasi evolutionary processes. Nothing has to die, but having nasty shocks can educate us for generations. We are going to watch those fascistic tendencies like a hawk...

            The trick is to lay all philosophical, political, religious prejudice aside....there's the rub.

            The problem is that children are effectively indoctrinated when very young. They are made stupider than chimp children by a very necessary mechanism because they are born effectively prematurely (head/pelvic girdle problem). Human brains have a huge amount to grow later (300%) quite unlike any other animal.

            Human children grow brains rapidly, but they grow with a huge, cross-coupled not-yet-functional complexity. This makes human children uniquely vulnerable for many years compared with their chimp counterparts. So, human kids have very many more mirror neurons (they synchronise/copy muscle actions and are implicated in empathy) that are particularly useful when young. Human infants copy in very faithful ways the actions of grown ups. This process is now labeled over-imitation. If chimps are shown how to solve a puzzle to win a reward they will learn it as readily as their human competitors. But if shown needless actions as well they will simply ignore the needless actions. Human kids copy ALL actions. They will do as they are told despite the evidence of their own eyes and reason. This is how they are kept safe whilst mostly incompetent.

            The actions learned at this period are pretty well hard wired for later life. Taught to meditate or pray or despise an outgroup, love the Fuhrer, fear spiders at this age and you have a disposition for life. That it may be against reason will not matter ANYTHING can be made to go in and form the bedrock on which all else will inevitably be built. Reason may soften these things in later life, but denying them will ever be painful.

            Getting parents to not indoctrinate children with their personal ideals at this time, but defer it until they have a semblance of critical thinking, will be the biggest single breakthrough in releasing people to make choices based on innate values. These values I trust.

            Indoctrination though has one fantastic product....culture. It is the very accurate copying mechanism that makes cultural evolution possible.

          • May the sciences be with you.

          • Phil Rimmer

            And with you :)

            Best wishes

            P.

          • William Davis

            I definitely agree with you about pragmatism over idealism. Too many idealists still here in the US. Hard to get them to hear you when they are so busy shouting at each other...

          • Phil Rimmer

            Having faith used to sound like a good thing when I was younger. I simply didn't understand its implications. Any good that it had must now reside in the appropriate encouragement to persevere.

            I used to be proud to be an idealist. But the world is complicated and big and ideals are simple and small, and solutions can't in reason precede problems.

            These are both tough nuts to crack.

          • loreenlee

            Just in reading over these comments, again, as a last input I am 'allowing' myself. I did not, as so often has been the case, on this forum', want to get into an 'argument' with respect to 'fact'. But there is a possibility, I believe, that it can be just as difficult to get to the facts as it is to the 'ideal' principle, theory, what have you. Indeed, as you have read Kant, and although I do not believe it is a 'one way street', there is much to be said that our observations are related to what may be referred to (although this is too complicated to discuss or argue fully) as the 'a priori' constituent For instance I no longer notice advertisements for diapers etc. as I am no longer a 'new mother'. Our observations are indeed somehow related to our 'expectations', as even Wittgenstein pointed out, ...continually, in his Investigations. (He did get more scientific in the sense you are using the word, within the progress of his life's story, I will agree). I have humorously 'entertained' this thought, and the possibilities it 'arouses' within my, in thinking about that theory, unacceptable at EN, that it might relate to the quark dilemna, although I would not even speculate in what way!. and to my inability to explain, why when I am in some state of mind, the Jungian phenomena of coincidence or simultaneity, 'seem' to occur more frequently. (Just a thought, Perhaps some scientific psychologist could 'investigate'). Anyway, I really must accept that I have been given the opportunity on this forum to have my say. As with my book, though I at least have the reserve to accept that no one has the 'duty' to read, or accept anything that is but 'my opinion' or 'interpretation' regarding the 'facts', in my life, which as Wittgenstein stated as his original opening of his Principles - Everything is a fact, which would 'ironically' also include 'ideas'.....No grin grin or LOL here, particularly as I have no comprehension of 'everything', either as an idea or a fact!!!

          • Phil Rimmer

            But the neuro-psychologists provide the evidence. Richard Gregory demonstrated first with evidence that cognitions are built on expectations and we know why and how valuable that was. Neuro-psychologists (nor anyone else) have ever managed to reveal any aspect of mind not composed of brainstates including the conscious state. No aspect of dualism however scientifically framed (the substance dualism of David Chalmers and the panpsychists) can explain how reports of conscious could be generated if it was not a result of brainstates itself. Brainstates are, indeed, all facts and their experiential correlates facts by default.

            Synchronicity is numbered amongst the many hypotheses of which I have no need. The billions of opportunities for coincidence fly past with nothing to mark them. Coincidence happens as often as we may reasonably expect, some very much the higher probability given that life the universe and everything constitute a loosely coupled system.

            One of my peak experiences ever was seeing a live performance of Peter Brooke's A Midsummer Night's Dream. White walled and simple as could be, I was astonished...just re-wired. I coined a phrase to describe it...Open-handed Magic. It had the character of magic so engaging so absorbing...wonderful yet all the tricks of its trade were fully open to view. There was nothing more to know. This was also when I realised art is the psychology experiment we get to perform on ourselves. It cured me of a teenage dalliance with mysticism.

            The plain, brute facts of observation, for me just enhance the wonder. No ah-ha tricks of quantum consciousness from Roger Penrose to try and sex it up and add a bit of spurious mystery, just brainstates, as seen, being the open handed magic to last a lifetime.

          • loreenlee

            I'm going to make no apology for my attempts to understand myself, the world, ideas or facts, if you wish to make a distinction, which of could is generally granted to be within the field of philosophy. But we as individuals are also I believe, if we are so open, developing our potentials with regard to all of these institutionalized, if I may use that word, endeavors.
            So I have just returned, or instance, from a yearly get together with friends I went to school with after high school, RTA at Ryerson Institute, now university in Toronto. I was seventeen and took part in many of the productions, as singer, actor, comedian. Most of those I met with today became famous in the field of film, production, etc. etc. I am amazed at where so many of my friends, acquaintances of the time 'ended up' : from Clayton Thomas, to Neil Young. Toronto was an incredible place to be in the early 60's. Yes I shared smoking pot with Barbara Streisand in the hallway of my apartment. I turned down an opportunity to dance with Mike Jagger, who scorned with me for the rest of the evening. I met famous people from all walks of life. And my friends at the time said I was making a mistake just when I was getting some revues from American publications. But I did not become a Robin Williams, I now feel, after doing much of my 'research' into another life history.
            So I feel with all you people. I have no 'fear' of any of you. I came back to make a few adjustments, but feel again I shall 'get nowhere'. I have no solutions to the world situation today, I hold that there is possibility in all that is 'given' to me, which thus therefore includes both apple-picking if you wish in any way to degrade this perspective, from Scientism as well as Catholicism, although I reserve the right to both Cartesian doubt and materialist skepticism that the conversation which I have witnessed within this dialogue is not 'necessarily' what it is purported by the participants to 'be'. I have and will continue to find 'truth' and eve 'the truth' within all of these opportunities, however. But I don't wish to argue my 'case'. Indeed, may I ask, what motivates all of you adopt this mode of discourse? There are, may I suggest, other possibilities, as in the practices of (Oh! I forget the word - it was very common in the 60's - mind ??? they were groups that shared ideas and experience looking for 'solutions' - a common goal of inquiry (with a critical mind, of course) but not based on criticism alone, which may I suggest I sense is at least an element that does occur on both sides of the 'dialogue'. No common 'solution' is possible here, then? - may I infer????? No possibility of the use of words within a 'new' and 'transformed' context, perhaps, as the possibility of agreement is perhaps not one of the suppositions of the dialogue?

            There is one little word, in considering your possible criticism, condemnation of what I have said. That is, that I used the term 'singularity' and this may be considered unduly controversial, for instance. And it may be even more unacceptable (help me, I have stolen from the physicists and mathematicians:make explicit your attempt is merely a form of satire, Loreen, that you do not wish to be regarded as a personal attack for instance, lest you be misunderstood!!) that singularity, could imply many things: Leibniz's model of monads, perhaps, or a polytheistic religious perspective, as two possibilities. You may reject these as being too 'idealistic' but then, would you also reject the possibility that this term applied to what is described as a particle of what 'matter?' which is about the size they say of a what -( I have been given a couple of comparisons here,) a pea?? perhaps? - just for controversy- could be regarded as synonymously 'difficult to accept' - for me at least.

            All I know, is that factually, my life has involved me in a continual effort to understand many different perspectives, although I have concentrated mainly on literature, philosophy, music, and comparative religion. I now find myself moving onto an interest in history, and yes - the scientific articles I read on Google. I have such helpful -words of dummies- articles such as (hope link takes) http://www.physicsoftheuniverse.com/glossary.html and I now am working at understanding elementary algebra etc. with some 20 year old males from India and the Philippines. Interesting that it is a rarity that not too many Americans, etc. etc. partake in this opportunity. So be it. I know that with effort and persistence that an quantitative increase in such pursuit can result, according to Hegel, in qualitative leaps within the area of the qualitative appreciation that hopefully legitimately can be related to consciousness, I can accept the possibility (ontologically) that consciousness is a physical or immaterial phenomena/noumena: when it gets right down to it, all the arguments are about what we 'know'. Hopefully, you scientists, grin grin, will come up with the proof as well as the evidence, either way. . Will you allow me therefore to be an agnostic with respect to both religion and science,in my admission of agnosticism, (another irony - once gnosticism, the denial of the good of matter, was/is considered a heresy) without either of you burning me at the stake?
            I shall continue to hold in abeyance all of the suggestions and 'certainties' (a word applied to self-conscious by Descartes- perhaps correctly described as solipsism, and indeed I am aware of the critique that such certainty 'is not') but although it is my hope to continue to make an effort to 'understand'. I will not be a propaganda machine.

            So all the best every one. I do appreciate that I cannot be critical of your use of humor and satire, when I use such a media, perhaps even defensively, when I feel 'trapped' between -materialism and 'religion' - but I am indeed from 'another generation' I must acknowledge that I cannot understand the lingo of much of your colloquialisms, especially when it comes to your jokes and private communications, if I can call them that. We had our own 'lingo' in the sixties, but I expect it would be laughable to you if I used the word 'cool' for instance to convey to you that as far as I am concerned- I am alright with the 'fact' that there will always be expressions in languages that will ever remain beyond my experience

            Hopefully I have cured my 'obsession' with 'getting in the last word'. Hopefully, that is not any kind of aggressive, or self-defensive mechanism. I have signed off on this site, and only received an update. Perhaps I shall discontinue those e-mails also, (when I figure out how) This comment may or may not be interpretated, as being rude or unopen to your points of view, whatever. And this perhaps could be placed within the category of puzzles to be solve, that Derrida redefined as the meaning of the Aristotelean 'a

          • Phil Rimmer

            I'm fascinated to know what and why you think what you do and live the way you do.

            I'm puzzled by all the defensiveness. Maybe that's from the Aspie in me, the socially maladroit bit? I'm sorry. At least I confirmed the Wittgenstein for you from another source. Sorry I couldn't agree on synchronicity.

            "your possible criticism, condemnation of what I have said."

            There is none, only a game of intellectual you show me yours and I'll show you mine."

            That's my sadness, and perhaps a little that you take me as the scientist. No, at most I'm an engineer, a collective creative bodger, who sees the world through those eyes. I aspire, though, to live the life of the poet! No philosopher I. Also, I delight in our varieties...

          • loreenlee

            May I offer you my shared Disqus file for any possible explanation for my 'madness' as well as a link which I will post to Portals for any possible 'amusement'.
            I have appreciated your friendship, as well as that of Will Davis, Kraker Jak and others, but will admit that I do not always feel either sympathy nor empathy within some of the comments on both sides of the discourse. I thus, as I just said to Kraker Jak, you may confirm on Disqus, that I promise 'myself' that in the future my response will, I vow, be a ........

          • Phil Rimmer

            " I do not always feel either sympathy nor empathy within some of the comments on both sides of the discourse."

            I have a few hugely important friends and when we discuss things, we are passionate and pretty much argue to a point that gets us noticed in the pub. Our differences matter to us and need to be understood.

            I'm an engineer. I don't expect consilience.

            There are many people I meet with whom I disagree passionately, but with whom I mostly argue with a lightness and seeming, casual tone. Its not important to me what that one person thinks.

          • Quote: Idealism is already fading in say European politics. Pragma is replacing dogma (though not fast enough in my view).

            Just thought I'd clarify here. Dogma was defined by Kant, initially, I believe in a comment regarding Leibniz, that his work, (like Hegel's perhaps) was based solely on definition of words, without reference to what the SN folks always talk about -empirical evidence. So yes, I believe too, this is an important distinction to make.
            However, perhaps we can learn from history, that some pragmatics, can become ideologies, which are such because they can hold certain dogmatic principles, which are not subjected to further testing, and modification. With respect to the word 'Ideology' for instance, both Marxism and Fascism have been given this description. And I am sure that you will agree with me, that some individuals even, can be very 'dogmatic' in this sense, with respect to their 'opinions' or 'worldviews'.

          • Phil Rimmer

            You might imagine I am not too interested in philosophical sophistry, despite being well disposed to much of Kant.

            The words' original Greek meanings and intentions are perfect for me.

            Fact is replacing held opinion.

            I would launch here into the world of the Engineer, surrounded only by brute facts, a problem and a desire to solve the problem well enough today.

            All cultures and all their social inventions have been engineered as much by poets as any. (I talked elsewhere of Shakespeare's part in inventing Romantic Love.)

            In the process of engineering and dealing with brute facts and our daily problems in the face of them we may yet reveal truths and perhaps more reliably and with greater confidence than via the abstractions of pure reason or even this endless bilateral struggle to make brute fact and pure reason the handmaid of each. Just wait, and see what we can build and what it reveals.

            Meanwhile, tend the garden. Each day look at the facts and make it better.

          • Loreen Lee

            Thanks, Phil. Your reply clarified just 'where you are'. And Yes, I too have a great distrust of 'pure reason', even with respect to many logical abstract arguments. Just to let you know that I understand and agree with 'where you are coming from'. The 'after the fact' comment was then productive. I now leave you in peace. You're better qualified to speak with the folks on EN than I am. Thanks, again.

          • Just checked my in-box and this Thomism article awaited me - (yes sometimes he's as incoherent as the evil lord believes I am) but....

            https://thomism.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/science-and-the-machine-2/#respond

            Just so that you know I'm not on 'your side' or the side of the 'big new computers' nor on the side of science/technology and its objectification etc. etc. There is absolutely no consistency, coherence or correspondence about me at all. I will be buried, (unless I'm ex-communicated!) in a Catholic cemetery, and I give what I can afford - a negligible amount of $15.00 a month (I've been on disability) because I feel their 'voice' with respect to ethical issues, is a necessary counter to some 'secular' perspectives, etc. etc. I do not 'go to church'. And I was one of the first to have an illegal abortion, and do all of the other 'crazy' things of the 60's. I married a Marxist, and fought against the Vietnam war. I appreciate Heidegger's critique of technology, some of the results of the switch from rationalism to 'voluntarism', but even here there are inevitably, directions that do not accord with 'the golden mean'. It can be very much therefore, like a tonic, to get caught up in the personal and political ideologies of the times. Mankind is perhaps noteworthy for his ability to 'dream'. As Neitzsche said: Insanity within an individual is rare; within the community - the norm. (A paraphrase). I understand that you will realize why I am neither a professional philosopher nor a scientist. I just believe it is important for people to 'tell their stories, and be heard'. All the best.

          • Phil Rimmer

            "There is absolutely no consistency, coherence or correspondence about me at all."

            Nor me. I studied physics at university, but acted for fifteen years from 15 through to thirty, in the middle teaching photography and printmaking. I now work in eco-tech. My kids are in the arts. And I am thoroughly dismayed by the idea of sides. I don't begin to understand how seeing things in all their glorious detail doesn't just add and add to the aesthetic thrill and gob-smacking wonder. But....thats aesthetics for you. We, none of us thank goodness, are quite the same.

          • I have just always want to be a mind as well as a body - early 60's feminism, which seemed somehow to contract this with the free sex thing - (no comment - what's freedom?) - but my kinds have done well. My daughter's a lawyer in the development of the New (computer) law, and my son is after the military for their use of Mefloquin. See Remington Nevin. So they went back to their dad's frontier. All is well! I am truly very grateful. Aesthetics I associate with the inner mind- beauty- even as in The Beatitude and truth with as in Kant, the Pure Reason. I think I'm ready to put it all on paper, actually. (within a story of course.) I just like the idea of Buddhist detachment, and the importance of self-development. (I didn't see this before, or I forgot it or something- so don't want you to think I'm ignoring you).

            I guess those popular psychology books, etc. are still useful----if this is an example of what they call their like attracts like - or whatever. I thought you were far more scientific than you actually turn out to be. You never know!!!! I acted from Ryerson 17 through to the age of 26, with a couple of years at the National Theater School. Did a lot of political satire, comedy!!! Can you tell....???

      • William Davis

        Everyone is entitled to their worldview, and there is plenty of room for variation given known facts. With regard to Godel's theorem, I think philosophers often stretch it to the limit and often apply it in places that it may not quite fit (it's basically a math proof after all). We differ on the limits of that application, and that's ok, I obviously tend to be more precise and analytical as you mention. Being precise seems to be an important part of being right in science and engineering, where it seems to be less important in philosophy. Different worlds (and I am by no means a scientist, but I'm more of a scientist than a philosopher if I have to pick a camp, and there does seem to be a bit of a feud between the two disciplines especially with the traditionalist philosophers).

        • Ladolcevipera

          Being precise seems to be an important part of being right in science and engineering, where it seems to be less important in philosophy

          The natural sciences and the human sciences have different methods, i.e. "erklären/to explain" vs "verstehen/to understand". In the natural sciences the scientist seeks to explain phenomena in terms of cause and effect, in terms of objective necessity. In contrast the human sciences treat the actor as a subject, not as the object of the scientist's observations. Individuals are seen as creating their own world by giving it meaning, by organising their own understanding of the world.
          No feud, just two different ways to look at the world and to explain/understand it.

          • William Davis

            Hawking, of all people, is probably the ring leader of the
            feud on the science side. Here are couple of things from Edward Feser (popular here) on the other side

            http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/02/why-are-some-physicists-so-bad-at.html

            http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/12/dreaded-causa-sui.html

            Here is a quote from the comments on the last article:

            George R. said...In their recent book The Grand Design, they tell us that “we create [the universe’s] history by our observation, rather than history creating us” and that since we are part of the universe, it follows that “the universe… create[d] itself from nothing.”

            I don't know what these guys are smoking, but it must be some good sh*t.December 4, 2010 at 12:37 PMEdward Feser said...I think it was rolled up copies of The God Delusion.

            It's bigger than these two but I think there is a feud of sorts in the world of pop culture. There probably shouldn't be a feud, but we all know how that goes (personally I think Hawking is wrong that philosophy is dead, but he's right that so many philosophers have not kept up with science).

          • You're always helpful, William. Hawking seems to be changing his mind quite a bit in the last while. In psychology the feud is very big. There's a lot of people diagnosed with 'mental illness', who are leading the fight against 'Big Pharma' for instance. And for good reason. Also the push for what is at the moment at least the beginning of a slow change and direction away from the predominance of treating psychiatric patience as 'mere' objects - scientifically speaking of course. (That was Sartre's reason for calling hell- other people - People who treat you as an object create a hell for you!!!!). After all if LGBTQ have acceptance and can with With Pride, why can't people recognize the course of the Mad Pride? Ah! - there's the connection I was looking for -an adaptation of the self-reference - incompleteness theory connection made into a psychological popular program - which will require the doctor to find a cure for the 'problem'.. The 'plot' thickens. Bring science to the arts!!!!!! and then bring the arts to the psychological sciences!!!! I love relationship!!!

          • William Davis

            With the sanity part, it reminds me of a line from Orwell's 1984 (great book)

            "He could not fight against the Party any longer.Besides, the Party was in the right. It must be so: how could the immortal, collective brain be mistaken? By what external standard could you check its judgments? Sanity was statistical."

          • I can't help, more and more, in my increasing old age to appreciate the importance of humor (satiric-relationship between tragedy and comedy, for instance, as one description), and where it is relevant. For instance, I believe their was not 'humor' in either the acceptance of death by either Socrates or Jesus, as the prime examples that I can think of.
            It may however, be relevant, to an interpretation of Nietzsche's Gay Science, though, which is at the moment a particular empirical of my attention.
            But as I have done nothing but read, read, read, (and do music) for the last possibly almost 60 years, I believe these senior years are allowing me, (as perhaps the process of reflecting on one's life experience) to simply make use of my time to find deeper connections. or instance, the quote above, gives an explanation that Socrates did indeed make both the practical and (though arguably) morally imperative choice under the circumstances, even though he had not presentiment that Plato was going to write about his life and philosophical experience.
            As I have already said I do find I am 'learning' more simply in the details than I have ever before even considered, or thought possible. (As in the Meno- Consciousness as Memory, in this example the ability to come to an understanding of 'universals' from the ability to contemplate 'many' particulars. (Do you understand why I use the scare quotes - ?- sometimes to simply draw attention to a contrast or something. It's like emphasizing a word, through the use of tonality, within a conversational context that is 'audible'.

            Just went back and read the quote again - yes it is 'satire'. As also I believe is the case with much/most of Nietzsche.
            Thanks for understanding. I do not expect I shall ever be 'published' (Please check out my Disquis file!) in full, because after all I'm in my mid-seventies!!!! May delete this link together with my son's link at the end of the day.. P.S. self-reference may be most common that it is believe to be. I have already made 'reference' to it in my writing, and thus within the context of my examination of 'madness' - may continues to explore and expand on this, even if it is only for my, and not the statistical average, understanding. I'm sorry. I can't help but be 'satirical' I am at the moment thinking of Nietzsche's definition of madness. Thanks for 'bearing' with me. I have so appreciated your historical references, etc. etc. . Do you want me to ask god or science to look after you? I'll do as you say. Promise. With LOL, and LOL - two interpretations. We can expect to finally be able to get to the answers with this new vocabulary.......

          • Edit: Read it again. Yes, that was what I was attempting to say to the overlord. The/an individual may be expelled from the context of 'the group' and be 'doomed' to a self-referential experience, because of the exclusion from the 'universal'. In what ways, philosophically or ironically, can 'incompleteness' be considered within this context, whether it be with respect to science, philosophy, religion.........I do believe you will understand what I am getting at here.
            Do we or do we not live, either as individuals or as a race, within a closed or open system?

          • William Davis

            Do we or do we not live, either as individuals or as a race, within a closed or open system?

            Seems to me to be a complex combination of the two, with a significant amount of individual variation. Some people are much more "closed" than others :)

          • There is therefore, the possibility that 'the incompleteness theorem' can 'serve' as a possible paradigm within an examination of the individual and/or the society?
            I am thinking at the moment of several books I read in the 70's. Couldn't find them all within the library. There was a study on paradigm shifts, and consequences- i.e. like complete revolutions within science, - like the Copernican revolution as an example. Is there a question as to whether these are ever complete?
            There was also a book which gave a critique of empiricism, which, after my conversation with Phil Rimmer, might I think help in understanding science within the jurisdiction of probabilities.
            Also, with respect to Popper, I left a link on my comment to Brandon Vogt, to a study which gave a very good critique of the 'limits' of falsification. The discussion I read, on SN did not explicitly state, (my reading) any direct relationship to confirmation or dis conformation of 'empirical evidence', but as I am constantly finding an emphasis on the logical characteristics of science with respect to arguments. (I once made an ironic comment with respect to this observation, comparing this tendency I at least have found, to some of the methods found in scholastic argument. It is possible that this study had some influence with respect to a withdrawal from the emphasis on logical positivism, as a method.
            These above statements I understand, are limited in both understanding and scope. But hopefully, they will give a perspective from an 'older generation' of what was the focus of the 70's, and perhaps give you some material to 'catch up on'. Also, please note, that as my courses in philosophy extended over a considerable period of time, I am very familiar with the phenomena of changing currents of interest, and perspectives. There are indeed 'fashions' to be followed.

          • Ladolcevipera

            I think Hawking is wrong that philosophy is dead, but he's right that so many philosophers have not kept up with science

            Hawking may be a genius in his field but he is mistaken about philosophers not keeping up with science. There are many new research areas at the intersection of philosophy and physics. One cannot expect every philosopher to understand in detail the newest theories in physics, but all of them know what they are about and what they imply for philosophy . The Owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of dusk! It would become Hawking to try and understand the nature of philosophy.
            Thank you for the link to Edward Feser's blog. It's very interesting!

          • William Davis

            I agree. Here is a philosopher I find fascinating and fairly original. He's definitely on the cutting edge of science...there are many more.

            http://www.nickbostrom.com/

            Here's an article where a "New Atheist" philosopher named Dan Dennett accurately claims we need philosophy as a protection from scientific overreach and misinterpretation (many scientists confuse their philosophical interpretation of science as science when it's really philosophy). The debate on free will is a great example (I agree with Dennett on that).

            http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/may/22/daniel-dennett-aristotle-flaming-idiot

          • Phil Rimmer

            I think scientists, mathematicians and philosophers are quite variable in each others fields. Physicists in general make poor philosophers. Mathematicians do rather better especially historically. Psycholgists and neuro-psychologists are poor philosophers. I don't think philosophers really keep up with physics efficiently. I've not so far seen any deal with branes or even string theory and T=0 cosmology. Philosophers do pretty well with maths (to my limited understanding) and brilliantly at psychology. Dan Dennett as mentioned by William is hugely important and others like Paul and Patricia Churchland are so in touch they are generating scientific hypotheses to be tested.

            The most exciting place to put a trained philosopher in is into the new findings of Andreas Wagner and his team surrounding the solution space for evolution (of proteins etc.) The discovery that problem solving solutions are possibly a million-fold more common than previously thought and organised in a particularly useful, mesh-like way to allow evolvability in multi-function genes, needs some specific maths and philosophy to eke out a wider significance and implication.

            Embedded philosophy would be a great double degree for Oxbridge Universities or Stanprincenell Institutes of Technology to...er...institute.

          • Ladolcevipera

            I do not quite agree with you. It cannot be the purpose of a double degree (not a bad idea) to make physicists out of philosophers. (I note that you don't think it necessary to make philosophers out of physicists). I think that it is very important to understand the logic behind the methods we choose to study our "object". We study the same universe but in a different way. The scientist's (in the narrow sense of the word) methodology is generalisation and abstraction etc.( I don't have to expand on this). What the scientist has to say about the universe is right of course, since science works. But that is not all there is to say about the universe. And this is where the philosopher steps in. S/he has to stay in touch with the new scientific discoveries; s/he has to understand (verstehen), not to explain (erklären) what this means for her/his own interpretation of reality. Because this is what philosophy does: to interprete reality by accepting the influence, the achievements of science AND to take into account, to understand the specific, the concrete. Meaningful questions like "What can I know?" "What ought I to do?", "What may I hope?" fall outside the domains of physics. But those are the questions that make us what we are: human beings trying to make sense out of maybe nothing.

          • Phil Rimmer

            I absolutely intended to make philosophers out of scientists and possibly the converse. As exampled there are philosophers designing lab experiments.

            All science is done in teams and just as having a mathematician on team is now very common, I think a philosopher or a philosophically trained (!) scientist would be a great addition. Double degrees almost as a definer of ideal team structures just broadens the net of possible students, adds vocabulary and insight into the postgrads to speed engagement and may ease the employment of philosopher-capacity in the face of tight budgets.

            I have the view that science is increasingly running out of metaphorical road (I mean running out of metaphors) to even construct accounts in any kind of language based way. As effects increasingly become strange and unfamiliar it becomes increasingly difficult to Understand by way of analogy. We may master the mathematics underlying the physics and be able to predict perfectly the outcomes of new situations, but understanding may not be possible for many others in ways that allow them access to judge and creatively contribute. I think there is possibly a new role here of philosopher/narrator to interface with the press, funding boards, government panels. Saying things carefully is a virtue held by only some scientists. Vilayanur Ramachandran and Antonio Damasio, much as I love their work, is hugely incautious on occasions, would that Patricia Churchland had tidied them up.

          • Ladolcevipera

            It suddenly dawned on me that our philosophy programme may be slightly different from yours. I took it for granted that all philosophy programmes include a significant number of courses from other domains. In our B.A. programme (18O ECTS = 3 years) 120 points are reserved for common philosophy courses. To guarantee the interaction with other scientific disciplines, the remaining 60 points are elective courses. Every philosophy student has to choose one "area of application", i.e. courses taken from basic (or advanced) courses in either physics (!), biomedical sciences, law, economics, history, linguistics etc. Conversely the Faculty of Philosophy offers an abridged degree in philosophy for students from other faculties. Philosophy students do not automatically have a second degree (in the sense you mean; althought many hold a second degree!) but they are given the tools to specialise in the chosen field. The Faculty offers of course also a M.A., a MPhil, and Ph.D.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Yet again I am a tardy inventor of wheels. I am consoled only by the thought that great minds and utter fools may differ only in the question of timing.

            It may though still be a fertile area for revision and reinforcement. I see a lot of value to be got from improving the quality and accuracy of the narrative interface from the team to outside.

          • loreenlee

            Over 21 years, struggling the need to balance raising two children, dealing with tenants,and renovating my 'house', I found my 3.9 average only qualified me for a Specialty, an alternative to an MA because of the 'tough' criteria of my particular university. However, I believe, I have over a long period read as much, but perhaps with less specific understanding of particular 'issues', than those philosophers who must necessarily specialize if they are in any way be successful at establishing a 'career'. I am thus glad that 'fate' directed me into the life-pattern that I 'necessarily adopted!! I am in no way disheartened by the 'fact' that I am neither an academic nor a professional. Ignorance is bliss? Envy not? Or perhaps if I could reach the state: Silence is golden? Is a grin grin allowed here, or perhaps a LOL? Thanks again for your insightful comments. Fare thee 'well'..

          • loreenlee

            Thanks Ladolcevipera. First the explanation (I guess not all explanations are 'scientific'!) I am allowing myself these comments after receiving the Disqus update, with the 'understanding' that this series, and particularly this discussion, is the limit with respect to my involvement.)
            I would just like to express my recognition of your understanding of the underlying motivation that has always been the focus of my studies, which have always been an attempt to follow even the Socratic dictum, to 'know thyself'. and thus everything remains 'a work in progress'. One of the distinctions I have developed within my book - PortalsofParadox - this can be Googled - is that between meaning and significance, what previously has been referred to as the distinction between the esoteric and the exoteric, the kingdom of god is within -as perhaps distinct from the Platonic universalizations of forms, possibly, the relation of the interior mode of understanding by the individual of his personal, individual life history and thus his/her 'unique' perspective on the world, in contrast to the Kantian relation of 'verstehen' to 'a priori' concepts, but one dimension of what he calls 'reason' within a much broader context..
            Self critique: (Perhaps I should have referred the concept significance to the personal and 'meaning' to the 'social',as the more expected 'association') However does this series, as well as what can be read within Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism,(a link is given within another comment box) and countless other studies of language, from Aristotle to Derrida, disclose as a 'reality' that the universals established within language invariably are in a constant state of 'adaptation'. Thus to consider that Wittgenstein's choice of the term 'game' for instance, as a metaphorical exemplar of this 'phenomena' need not necessarily be regarded as a derogatory. reference/comparison/your choice of word here as possibly it may not be necessary to 'assume' as you say that there is any 'feud', especially if we assume that term to 'connote' some 'unnecessary' hostility. May we, as you suggest, seek to 'understand' one another, and learn to develop good principles in the hope that with more awareness we will be better able to abide by and further develop the 'rules of the game'., and indeed find a greater ability to function well within the many, perhaps infinite possibilities of language which within the domain of the 'universals', games from hockey to scrabble, from language to economic theories, from mathematics to theology, to philosophy are all dependent in some way on the 'singularities'??? found within personal reflection.....!!! Do we always distinguish between the two???
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singularity_%28mathematics%29 - (Explanation!!! yes I have googled articles giving different accounts without 'understanding' any of them!!!! but still feel that I benefit from even a 'metaphorical' consideration. Such is the 'audacity of literature, even that found in science fiction - and, dare I say, possibly the metaphysical?? (How do you understand this word?) speculations of both science? and religion.... ) I confess that I indeed find it most difficult, most often, to relate both to my 'self' and 'others'! That is why I write. Best wishes.

        • Just a thought, William. You have, of course, heard of Social Darwinianism, for instance. Yes? But I would want a theory of Incompleteness to be in any way shape or 'form' as 'elitist' as this was. But I do hope to work on such a theory, if I ever am able to have the tenacity to get to work writing literature rather than comments whose destination is limited to the Discuss file. (That's where they got that word from I guess - See, if I'm right 'creative' thinking can come up with some Do-Sees!!!! Enjoy.your completeness!!!

    • This comment directed to A. (evil overlord) was deleted today.
      (Something is wrong - I can't edit. Will try again later. Thanks).

      Quantitative-Qualitative relationship (2) People

      Loreen Lee Couldn't
      resist! L0L. Quote: If there are p;roofs of the incompleteness theorems
      that don't rely on self-referential statements, isn't that enough to
      show that they aren't really related? But isn't th

      Today at 10:39 AM

      Loreen Lee

      To

      loreenlornalee@yahoo.ca

      Today at 10:39 AM

      Couldn't resist! L0L. Quote: If there are p;roofs of the
      incompleteness theorems that don't rely on self-referential statements,
      isn't that enough to show that they aren't really related?

      But
      isn't that the a perfect example of our 'little' disagreement. I would
      offer the 'opposite' interpretation. If the self-referential statements
      are as you say not related to a more 'general' presentation of the
      incompleteness theorem - I would assert- (even as a further
      instantiation of the liar paradox - that you are 'missing the point' and
      it is just the fact of exclusion that demonstrates the 'actuality' of
      exclusion of particular particulars within, or as a result of the
      'truth' of the theory of incompleteness.

      In other words, I shall, I
      assure you find comfort within my own sphere of paradox, because I was
      merely attempting to state that a personal experience of
      'self-reference' can seemingly be imposed on an individual's perception,
      when a particular modeling of experience does not conform to what is
      accepted as the general rule.

      I have no 'problem' with this. I am
      open to the reality that you have your own point of view, which is based
      on quantitative analysis which excludes a relationship with the
      'qualitative': Just watched a wonderful video by Brian Green (no Adams)
      that made the point that Hegel once made, that it is through
      quantitative analysis, (math) that a bridge can be made for a
      qualitative 'leap' in consciousness. Thus I feel my interest in 'art'
      has benefited from this experience. I can 'relate' to both, although
      very lacking in ability within the explicated standards of
      'measurement'!!!! All the best.

    • Loreen Lee

      Dear William. I just deleted the comment below. And I believe I now understand wherein lies the confusion. Is it true that within mathematics relations are held to be 'necessary'. If so, my adaptation of the 'paradigm' would differ in that I would describe any possible development of a 'referential paradox within an individual' would not be a necessary, i.e. logical relation to the 'Incompleteness theorem'. Hopefully I am expressing this correctly. The importance is that I now understand the truth of what the overlord is saying. I believe he accepted my share quoted reference to the term 'actuality' to be related to the theorem in the way that these arguments for divinity are also based on propositions which are held to be necessary. Thus, it is a causal relation, which perhaps arises from the perception of the person experiencing a self-referential paradox, that are the main criteria. However, the fact that a person feels somewhat a lack of personal power by being reduced, for instance, to the condition of 'mere' potential, could be considered a justifiable cause. I want to give my thanks to the 'lord', therefore, although I will not cease exploring this possibility of causal rather than logical relation. Indeed, I am going to work on this, as I've already introduced the problem of this paradox within the book, Portals of Paradox, and will continue to follow it up with study of the Stanford articles, rather than engaging in these dialogues to the degree I have in the past. In other words, I do 'have faith', that I might be onto something. Thanks all. Hopefully, I may have taken a 'qualitative leap' in understanding the quantitative elements, even that of repetition of a specific pattern of thought, that Hegel spoke about. as an example of the relationship between quantity and quality. I going blind here, I know, but I feel justified because I'm attempting to understand 'madness'. Thanks.

  • What is this mysterious "potential" the author keeps referring to as if it has some real role in the world, but also keeps saying that it isn't anything?

    • Think of it as material possibility rather than mental or logical possibility, perhaps. Just a thought. It may be 'immaterial'!!! grin grin.

  • “all beings except Being itself are composed of form and matter,” which is decidedly incorrect.

    FWIW, that's uncharitable interpretation. The English "and" is ambiguous as to whether the elements on either side of the "and" are combined. Cothran chooses to interpret it unfavorably but had no need to. The two meanings are logically and grammatically quite distinct, though I suppose someone who hasn't studied other languages might not perceive the difference.

    e.g
    ("And" implies combination)
    My grey paints are composed of black and white paints.
    ("And" doesn't imply combination)
    My chess boards are composed of black and white squares.

    Why are religious apologists invariably given to uncharitable interpretation?

    • Ryan:

      You have misunderstood the issue here. "Composition" is a term of art. The issue is that Webb claims that hylomorphism as such holds that only God is not composed of matter and form, which is another way of saying only God is immaterial. I never attributed the view to Webb that hylomorphism entails any particular relation of matter and form within composite beings in terms of whether matter and form are "combined" or not.

      And in fact, the issue of "combination" is irrelevant to hylomorphism anyway. To say that something is composed of matter and form is to say that the matter and form remain distinct, and are not simply combined into a mixture of the two. Thomists, for example, generally hold that there is a rigid, real distinction between matter and form.

      But even if you want to argue that the fact that some hylomorphists argue for a weaker, virtual distinction between the two, it is quite irrelevant to my argument. Whatever the relation of form and matter is thought to be in composite beings, it is manifestly the case that hylomorphism is not the doctrine that all beings are composed of matter and form.

      Were that true, Aristotle would not be a hylomorphist, because he believed that there were multiple "separate substances", which were immaterial. Nor would Aquinas be a hylomorphist, because he believed in beings that were not divine, but were immaterial. Webb has conflated universal hylmorphism, a particular sort of hylomorphism, with hylomorphism in general.

    • Alexandra

      Hi Ryan, it's "decidedly incorrect" according to Classic Theism because there are also beings that are not made of matter and form. In other words, it is not true that all beings are composed of matter and form. Some beings are not.

    • Steve Webb

      It is very hard to explain how angles, for example, can be immaterial and yet have some kind of being, or substance. There is no need to rehearse Aquinas's position on this, which is the best of the best, but many do not find him persuasive. Same with the soul. The difficulty of conceptualizing any immaterial entity is why there arose the position of universal hylomorphism, which applied Aristotelian analysis of compounded substances to every existent, every entity (not ideas, of course), from angels to souls to human beings and rocks. Another route to take is to rethink classical definitions of prime matter, which is the path I pursue and am developing.

  • Doug Shaver

    Any defense against Stephen H. Webb’s critique of classical theism must, then, defend some particular form of classical theism that does have an ontology.

    I am not an atheist because of what any other atheist has to say about classical theism or any other theism. I am an atheist because no theist--Catholic or Protestant, or other Christian, or other than Christian--has shown me a good reason to believe that "God exists" is a true statement.

    • Ladolcevipera

      It all depends on what you mean by "a good reason" and by "God exists". I am a "friendly atheist" but I think that absence of "proof" doesn't mean that "God" doesn't "exist".

      • Doug Shaver

        I think that absence of "proof" doesn't mean that "God" doesn't "exist".

        I think the same. Not believing that God exists is to be distinguished from believing that God does not exist.

        At least, they are logically distinct. In terms of how I live my life, it could well appear to be a distinction without a difference.

        • Kraker Jak

          Fine....but who is God?....You have a lot to say about who he isn't, and much critique of Webb and Hart, but there must be some sort of Catholic definition, that you can quote for the unwashed masses. What do you pundits say to the average person in the pew who are not steeped in philosophy and metaphysics? and would like to know who or what god is other than to zip our lips, and swallowing the church line that we are created to love, obey and serve God as Trinity , otherwise we are at peril of everlasting suffering and condemnation in hell.

        • Kraker Jak

          sorry Doug...mistake...reply was not meant for you.

    • Aquinasbot

      What would fit your criteria for "good reason"?

      • Doug Shaver

        An undisputed fact that is inconsistent with God's nonexistence.

        • Aquinasbot

          Undisputed among who? I mean you can say an undisputed fact but I find that even this definition becomes a moving target when pressed. So as long as we're looking for undisputed facts, what do you think that might look like?

          • Doug Shaver

            Undisputed among who?

            Among the parties to the debate. If you say that X is inconsistent with God's nonexistence, I may or may not agree that X is a fact, but if I do agree, then at least between you and me, X is undisputed, and whether anyone else disputes it doesn't concern us. And, if X is undisputed in that sense, then we can focus our debate on the particular issue of whether it is inconsistent with God's nonexistence.

            If X is disputed, i.e. I don't believe it is a fact, then its theological implications are, at least me, epistemologically irrelevant. If X implies T, then I make no logical error if I deny T so long as I don't affirm X. Whether I ought to be affirming X is a separate issue, but it needs to be addressed before we can argue about T.

  • Steve Webb

    I (Stephen H. Webb) certainly do not say that hylomorphism is the doctrine that all beings other than being itself are composed of form and matter. I (correctly) attribute that belief to the teaching of universal hylomorphism (which was held by Ibn Gabirol and a few others). Read pp. 173-176 of my book Jesus Christ, Eternal God or my article about Ibn Gabirol http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/04/rethinking-theology-and-matter-with-ibn-gabirol
    I very much enjoy critiques and questions about my work, and always profit from any theological dialogue. My theology is "on the way" and hardly settled. BUT a bit of accuracy in reading my work is an important prerequisite for dialogue!!

    • Kraker Jak

      But who is God?....You have a lot to say about who he isn't, and
      much critique of Webb and Hart, but there must be some sort of Catholic
      definition, that you can quote for the unwashed masses. What do you
      pundits say to the average person in the pew who are not steeped in
      philosophy and metaphysics? and would like to know who or what god is
      other than to zip our lips, and swallowing the church line that we are
      created to love, obey and serve God as Trinity , otherwise we are at
      peril of everlasting suffering and condemnation in hell.

      • neil_ogi

        quote: 'otherwise we are at peril of everlasting suffering and condemnation in hell.' -- atheists and other 'everlasting-torment' believers are already informed that this doctrine doesn't hold in harmony with a God full of love and merciful to the needy. the hell is a place where unrepentant sinners are thrown to experience the 'second' death. (meaning, the total annihilation of unrepentant sinners). this doctrine is taught in jehovah's witness and seventh-day adventist churches

        so stop spreading your propaganda that hell is a place for everlasting torment

        • Kraker Jak

          meaning, the total annihilation of unrepentant sinners

          Well console yourself with that thought:-)
          The Catholic church teaches otherwise, and that is what I was referring to, not the propaganda of the other silly cults.

          The doctrine of hell is so frightening that numerous heretical sects end up denying the reality of an eternal hell. The Unitarian-Universalists, the Seventh-day Adventists, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Christadelphians, the Christian Scientists, the Religious Scientists, the New Agers, and the Mormons—all have rejected or modified the doctrine of hell so radically that it is no longer a serious threat. In recent decades, this decay has even invaded mainstream Evangelicalism, and a number of major Evangelical figures have advocated the view that there is no eternal hell—the wicked will simply be annihilated.

          The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.’

          http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-hell-there-is

          • neil_ogi

            catholic church teaches that and not other religion which teaches annihilaton of the wicked. who says that the catholic church is the only 'infallible' church? who says that adventist, jehovah's witness, mormons are cults? they are just labelled by the catholic church as 'modern heretics' (cults). actually the catholic church insists that she is the 'only church founded by peter and jesus', and further claims to be 'outside the catholic church there is no salvation' ..

            that's why protestantism arose during the middle ages. hundreds of churches sprouted like mushrooms, with different doctrines on salvation, hell, heaven, God, Godhead of jesus, etc.

            the catholic church doesn't represent the totality of all christians. if she teaches hell as 'everlasting' torment place, then that's her teaching. i only view what the Bible really teaches about hell. if hell is eternal, then time will not permit in the agony of the wicked. Revelation 21:2 also says;'Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.' .. if hell is eternal, then the universe must be eternal. hell fire is also compared with the 'gehenna', this is a place in jerusalem where garbages and other refuse are dumped. mark 9:48 'where "'the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.' (modern jerusalem's dump site is no longer 'burning' today. a fire is not quench IF this fire is fed up by garbages and other flammable materials, but if not, do you think the fire won't quenched?

    • Stephen:

      You do distinguish universal hylomorphism from hylomorphism generally in Jesus Christ, Eternal God. However, you do not do so in "Is God More Like A Rock Or The Idea Of A Rock." The relevant passage in the latter reads as follows:

      "We might eventually end up at
      hylomorphism, the idea that all beings except Being itself are composed of form
      and matter. (Angels remain an ambiguous limit case of this idea.) Matter is the
      potential for something to be, while form is what anything actually is. It
      follows that when we know something, we know its form. Matter itself is not only
      unknowable, but non-existent for practical purposes. God did not first create
      matter and then form it. Instead, he brought matter into being by thinking of a
      variety of things, which are distinguished by how close they are to his own
      thinking."

      With the appositive in the first sentence you present hylomorphism as "the idea that all beings except Being itself are composed of form and matter." You're not being misrepresented; you're being quoted.

      • Steve Webb

        Well, so we are both right. In my book, I am much more careful with my language, while in that 4 or 5 paragraph blog, I was a bit sloppy, ALTHOUGH you fail to quote my whole thought, which acknowledges that there are at least some beings, in classical theism, that are NOT composed of more and matter. So you still were unfair to my article. Don't you agree? I think it is important to be fair to each other so that we can then get down to the really fun and important debates, such as What the heck is matter anyway!!

        • I'm sure I could find a more formal statement, but just off-hand: on the Thomist view, prime matter is the potential in concrete beings to take on substantial forms that remains really distinct from any corresponding substantial form. The term "matter" can also be used in different derivative senses (i.e., analogically, referentially, or metaphorically) to mean the thing itself as the subject of accidental forms, certain kinds of parts contained virtually in a substance (carbon atoms, etc.), flesh and bone (which, it is important to recall, are already informed by the substantial form), or even the genus to which something belongs.

          While Thomists or Aristotelians are subject to criticism on many grounds, their accounts of matter are lucid and extensive.

          I am, as it happens, troubled by certain aspects of Aquinas' ontology, and so I'm certainly not saying you're wrong because you're not a Thomist. What I am saying is that your criticisms rest on historically incorrect assumptions about the relevant classical philosophical and theological doctrines, and that, once these are recognized, the force of your argument against classical theism dissipates.

  • Kraker Jak

    Just who or what actually is this god that Colthran speaks of?

  • Kraker Jak

    Is it too much to ask for some representative of the Catholic faith who has some clout ...to step up to the podium to make at least a statement as to who or what god is...if not a clear definition but at least a vague alternative...after two thousand years of contemplation and study? Pardonez moi.... but my three score and ten have all but expired and don't have much left but would really like to know.

    • KJ. I'm attempting to get out of this conversation. But if you want definitions, Thomism is a direct steel of Aristotle's four cosmological proofs, based on the cause and effect relationships of: material cause, efficient of moving cause, formal cause and final cause or teleology or purpose. His first cause is the primary one of the definition considered as being of being, or however you want to phrase, it - (no wonder they have such difficulties being coherent with one another) - subsistence, -whatever.
      I am saying this with an intuition that I understand from my own personal perspective the often productive effect of a Socratic irony. These causes produce the idea also of Primary cause, in that since it is mind that is the cause of matter, we are thus an image of God, (this follows logically from the premise) and thus we are but potential to his actuality. I believe that much of the authority of the church is based on this premise, and that this perhaps also characterizes the 'submission' inherent in Islam.
      The best thing I have decided, is just to keep my eyes and ears open, and I am confident that I can learn bit by bit. Indeed perhaps that can be an 'active' principle to make the best possible of each succeeding moment - (I think I may be even more senior than you!!! Don't you love 'old age'!!!!!). Love ya!

      • Kraker Jak

        Thanks Loreen....what I was asking for from Catholic apologists and Cothran was simple enough....but it seems to be like pulling hen's teeth, and so I had to glean it for myself.

        The Catholic version of God Catholic apologists and theologians seem reluctant to say it for some reason.

        At the very core of the Catholic faith is the belief in God . The Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. God is the divine being from which all things come ‘ even the things we cannot see or do not know. God made heaven, earth, angels, saints, our bodies, our souls, everything! There is a physical realm that we can see and that there is a spiritual realm that we cannot see. God created it all. God is our Heavenly Father who formed us and everything else. We share in all both parts of this creation because we have both a body and a soul. God always existed God did not come from anything! Everything came from God. God is the “maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. There is one God, but is manifested in three persons. the Mystery of the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, each having distinct personalities. Belief in God is necessary for salvation.

        Now Catholic apologists and theologians was that so hard to say without it getting stuck in your throats?
        http://www.aboutcatholics.com/beliefs/who-is-god/

        • Hi. That was some Cracker Jack! I 'infer' from this that you were not brought up a Catholic. The link was for me a bit grounded in deception, because at least for me, which was long before Vatican II, there was much drilling. I can actually give a credible abstract logical argument for the necessity of the Mother of Jesus (and the Church) to be a Virgin. This can include the use of many alternative 'definitions', which is consistent with the difficulty that abstract, dogmatic, thinking, which Kant spoke of even with respect to the philosophy of Leibniz and Hegel, as being ideas, without reference to evidence.

          Of course, to keep the idea of an empirical basis intact, we must also consider that some of the mysteries can only be supported by such phenomena that we describe as 'miracles'. Indeed, if I had time, I would check out this 'hypothesize', so that I could develop a critical-historical perspective, in line with what we have read within this series.
          All of these constructs are non contradictory, and thus within the realm of possibility, and thus must be considered to be logical, even by current modern philosophical standards.
          Logical yes, - but not always believable to those without belief, if I may give you a 'pure' atheist tautology, in a fitting response to the 'pure' catholic tautologies.
          Indeed, I am not dismissing Catholicism, as I have been influenced by the atheist philosopher Habermas, that these ideas may yet 'bear fruit' if they can be understood within a more 'down to earth' context. In any case, thought, if proof is required, the onus would be on the evangelists, and I have other interests in any case.
          So glad you're on board to what is up here, cause I don't want you to hit the road, Jack!!!! Do you want a LOL or a grin grin??????

      • Kraker Jak

        But if you want definitions,

        Still can't get a clear picture in my brain....is God an entity, an immaterial Being.or person..or being itself, or ground of all being,or existence itself or any of the other odd conceptions, referring to god as the IAm is still not a satisfactory answer. Is god in the universe?, is god outside of space and time?....does the universe, space and time exist in god?, or in the mind of god? Does god even exist anywhere other than in the neural networks of believers? which seems to be the most obvious answer.The questions at this stage of the game are only rhetorical Loreen. Theologians certainly don't have any answers other than to promote the Catholic propaganda party line.....especially those theologians of late. No reply expected. Take Care.

        • loreenlee

          Sorry KJ. I didn't mean the first sentence as being directed personally to you. But I just checked my Disquis file and somehow I have indeed succeeded in somehow eliminating access to all my comments, etc. I do have access however to comments made to me. I don't know how to get back. Perhaps I should therefore really take this as an answer to my wish. But I didn't expect that I would lose all my comment history.

          Ah! life is strange. Maybe I can chalk this up to 'karma' or something.

          • Kraker Jak

            if you can see your avatar at the top of the disqus page...click on it and perhaps you will see your history come up.

          • loreenlee

            Thanks Kraker Jakl. followed your suggestion with 'no luck'. However my computer has been behaving very 'illogically' for the last couple of days. The figures on number of entries, etc. are still there but I cannot attain access. I'm going to take that as my cue to leave this discussion, debate, dialogue.

            Interesting though, while this was happening I was reading an article by the philosopher Quine: Two dogmas of Empiricism. It's really 'funny'. When I took courses in analytic philosophy I thought I really followed what was going on. It make perfectly good sense to me. Maybe I'm doing something differently in my reading now, looking for content perhaps, attempting to relate it more to my 'empirical self' - what not. But what ever it is, I have come from this experience with the belief that the same problems can be found within modern logical philosophy as have been referred to in this series as what!!! Frankenstein.
            I was told once that logic is but the form, structure or something of our thought. Again I just took that as the truth, without any questioning. I placed a comment on EN where I suggested that argument may be denotative but not connotative. But now, if I am allowed to say that connotation and meaning have the same 'meaning', I start to get into real trouble, because there does not appear to be a single, perhaps the word univocal (???? something or other) will do here. http://www.ditext.com/quine/quine.htmlcal (that too is from Aristotle) So I think it is possibly I really do 'have to give up' at least for awhile. I am going to put you also on my follow list though. The thought just came to me, that maybe this is because we don't 'really' know what 'matter' is, or we could also say we don't 'really' know what 'the' matter is - if the the is the same the that is in theology, and that too is related in some way to 'univocity'. Maybe I'm beginning to understand what possible Wittgenstein was about when he compared our 'living' language to 'games', based on the possibility that he was inferring that we could not come to a clear definition with respect to either. So if I 'equivocate' perhaps I am not alone. In any case, (because I am speaking to you, about a shared experience, I trust that you have some understanding of what I am talking about. I no no more!!!!
            I'll be following you. With luv. Loreen.

          • Kraker Jak

            OkeeDokee

          • loreenlee

            All is 'well'!!

          • loreenlee

            It's OK Private. Maybe I too will do that. The 'battle' is hard, but I appreciate your 'degree'.

        • Alexandra

          Hi KJ,

          We speak of God as a Trinity of three persons- God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit.

          The Nicene creed describes what we believe about each of them.

          Here's the link:
          http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/

          I hope this helps, and feel free to ask me any questions.

          • Kraker Jak

            Thank you A.

    • Catholic statements on who God is are not hard to find. The Creed is recited every Sunday, the Old and New Testaments read publicly and privately, catechism classes are held. The Church has held councils on the subject, issued formal and binding statements, constructed and revised Catechisms, formed and funded universities, underwritten the activity of theologians, and so on.

      You're not asking too much; you're asking for what has been already provided in abundance.

      • Kraker Jak

        Ok...thanks. All of this boils down to a matter of believing in what and who the church has determined god to be in the creed and the Catholic interpretation of the old and new testaments, and if any don't believe that, they are simply wrong. Then I fail to see what all the hoopla is about what Webb or Hart or any philosopher says. Why these articles and discussions. Would it not be more honest and simple to say that any that any who don't agree with the Catholic church on who and what god is are wrong?
        There really is no discussion, only the public airing of slight disagreement between two Catholic theologians who are actually two peas in a pod, this is whole thing is just about not much more that the defense of the Catholic Church.

        • The general notion of God as the infinite source of being is not specific to Catholicism, Christianity, or even the West. It's common to all monotheisms.

          Moreover, while the general notion of God obviously comes through revelation, it can also be reasoned to from the world we experience. So it is certainly not the case that one need to accept Catholic dogma to accept the monotheistic notion of God. Strange Notions is filled with articles discussing these arguments, and lengthier discussions can be found by looking at SN's recommended books.

    • Aquinasbot

      There are plenty of documents for you to read on the matter, it's not about a matter of whether or not it exists, but rather if you'll accept it.

      In short, we can at least determine what God is not and what he is within the boundaries of our concepts and terms. It's ultimately a practice in metaphysics.

      From the onset one must first take into account what metaphysical framework corresponds to reality. I believe the Aristotelia-Thomistic view fit this criteria and has yet to be truly refuted (though that is not the reason why I believe it is true).

      The 4 causes are a starting point for understanding everything and from there we can work our way up to the concept of God put forth, however "vague" it is to you, just like Aristotle did pre-Judeo-Christianity and without any exposure to it.

      If we take some simple like a chair and ask what makes up that chair we can refer to 4 causes. The material, formal, efficient, final.

      Wooden Chair:

      Material: The material from which it is made, the thing that makes up the chair. The wood.

      Formal: The form of the chair that makes up its "chairness", such as the seat connected to the legs and the support for the back.

      Efficient: The moving cause that made the chair, such as the Carpenter or machine

      Final: The purpose for which it exists, i.e. to sit.

      This account of reality I hardly find objectionable and for the most part science deals with all the top three and often times eschews the the last. But nothing makes sense unless this final cause exists.

      Taking that into account and without going into it comprehensively, we can look at something as basic as a chair and look at certain like the fact that is it sitting on the floor and begin to analyze what, in this moment, is causing the chair to be HERE AND NOW.

      The chair standing on the floor, exists here and now, partly because it was first created and left to itself being dependent upon both the form it took (from the mover, the "efficient cause") and the material from which it was made (the wood). But it also exists here and now because it is dependent upon a heirarchy of immediate causes, such as the floor it stands on which is supported by the foundation of the house, which is supported by the earth directly under it, which is HERE AND NOW supported by the total sum of the earth and its position in our solar system and other things like gravity. S

      So at any given moment those things (the floor, the earth, gravity) are not necessarily linear causes but hierarchical causes that sustain the chair existing where it does here and now. But in order for any of it to exist, both the form, the material, etc., there must be a sustaining efficient cause that sustains it HERE AND NOW.

      This sustaining efficient cause for the chairs existence must itself be self-sustaining and in order for that to happen it would have be be existence itself, which exactly what Aquinas say: ipsum esse subsistens.

      Can we know the totality of what that is? No, but can we infer that it must exist? Yes. How, based on all that we know about reality and the impossibility of anything existing HERE AND NOW without an imminent efficient cause.

      I probably butchered this argument, but I'm also rushing it. This is far from a complete account of it and possible somewhat error prone if my language wasn't clear enough.

  • Guest

    I am going to resist the urge to respond and go back to being a lurker.

  • neil_ogi

    because human's concept about God is very limited, man tends to think that He is like a lightning, full of power and glory. some christians view God as a 3-person in 1. one scriptural passage is very convincing: ', "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." - matthew 28: 19;

  • Thanks for this. It is clear that the author of this piece is using "matter" and "form" differently than I do.

    To me, matter is the stuff that can take a shape or arrangement. It is not potential, it is "stuff", that which is, rather than how, things are. What and whether there is an indivisible unit, I would say is unknown. It would seem to be the quark. But when I speak of matter I mean that which exists and may be arranged.

    Form would be a word I use to describe arrangements of matter, and I would agree that any matter in a particular shape has the potential to be a different possible form. But, it does not seem to have the potential to not "exist".

    I think these distinctions go to the heart of many disputes I've had on these pages.

  • Kraker Jak

    A bit off topic....It has to be said. But someone from the unwashed masses has to say it. There is no hope for the future of Catholicism, especially in the West, if the powers that be do not allow married men to become priests, and I am not speaking of Anglican converts, ...There are many married deacons who would love to serve as priests....
    and /or allow the clergy to marry, If not actually allow women into the "priesthood" heaven forbid;-)

  • Thomas, just want to thank you for an interesting series on Webb and classical theism. I have to agree with you that Webb's theology crosses orthodox boundaries and becomes something that few Christians have ever affirmed.

  • Fred

    For this reason, Christians can merrily agree with the attacks of a philosophically dessicated and theologically unsound notion of divinity we too easily find misnamed “Christian.”
    Hear hear! I've often heard atheists polemicize against God and thought, "What a coincidence! You and I don't believe in the same God. Fortunately for me, the God neither of us believes in bears no relation to the God I do believe in."