Monday, June 20, 2011

Meyer and fusionism

“Fusionism” is the label usually applied to Frank Meyer’s project of harmonizing freedom and tradition in a modern conservative synthesis.  (Meyer actually disliked the “fusionist” label, since it seemed to imply that freedom and tradition did not form an organic unity and needed therefore to be “fused.”  In his view, they naturally go together.)  If by “freedom” we mean respect for the rule of law, limited and decentralized government, and a general preference for market solutions over state action, and by “tradition” a respect for religion and the family, then any modern conservative ought to be a fusionist, and most probably are fusionists.  But Meyer himself had more than this in mind.  In particular, he seems to have been committed to a strict libertarianism of the Ayn Rand or Robert Nozick sort on which any governmental action over and above the police, military, and judicial functions is always and in principle unjust.  And he thought that this extreme position followed from a respect for traditional morality.

I used to be committed to this strong form of fusionism myself, but I long ago abandoned its doctrinaire libertarian component.  In particular, I now hold that the extreme conception of property rights and self-ownership that one finds in writers like Nozick and Rothbard cannot be reconciled with the theory of rights that follows from traditional Aristotelian-Thomistic natural law theory.   (See my Social Philosophy and Policy article “Classical Natural Law Theory, Property Rights, and Taxation” – which at the moment is available online here, for some reason – for an exposition of what I now take to be the correct approach to property rights and related issues.)

This by no means entails an endorsement of socialism, the welfare state, or any other sort of nanny state.  On the contrary, a traditional natural law account of natural rights in general and property rights in particular still puts stringent limits on what government can do.  Its doctrine of subsidiarity requires, on grounds of justice, that economic and social problems should be dealt with as far as possible at the level of families, private associations, and local governments.  (We had occasion last year to discuss this doctrine’s implications for the health care debate.)  Hayekian arguments for the rule of law, decentralized power, and the superiority of markets over government planning retain their power whatever we think of libertarian natural rights theories.  The point is that the claim that outlawing heroin (say) is always and inherently a violation of natural rights, or that even the slightest taxation for the sake of aiding the needy always and inherently amounts to robbery, simply cannot be maintained.  Many issues of economics and public morality are more complicated than that, and require careful attention to a number of moral and practical considerations – merely shouting “Taxation is theft!” or “I own myself!” does not suffice.  Nor do Meyer’s arguments show otherwise. 

Meyer’s main reason for claiming that a respect for traditional morality entails a libertarian political order is that for good behavior to count as truly virtuous, it must be freely chosen – a theme repeated ad nauseam in his book In Defense of Freedom.  Now of course, there is much truth in this dictum.  We can agree, for example, that forcing people on pain of fines or imprisonment to attend church services would do nothing to promote a genuine religious ethos, and indeed would surely have the opposite effect.  (Does anyone deny this?)  But this simply does not entail the radical libertarianism Meyer thinks it does.  He doesn’t see this because he fails to draw several important distinctions.

We need, for example, to draw a distinction between requiring good actions and forbidding evil ones.  Now it is not true without qualification even to say that the former cannot result in true virtue.  On the contrary, as every good Aristotelian knows, that is what child-rearing is all about.  Children first need to get in the habit of doing what is good – and to be punished for failing to do so – before they can understand the point of doing so, and thus before they can meaningfully choose to do so.  By the time they are adults, ingraining good habits in this way is much more difficult.  Still, precisely for this reason – that is to say, precisely because adults are adults and thus both responsible for themselves and at least to some extent set in their ways – it is usually counterproductive to try to force them to do what is good in the hope that genuinely virtuous character will result from this.  Thus there is to that extent truth in Meyer’s point that virtue – at least in an adult – must be freely chosen.

Still, this is clearly true only where forcing people to take some positive action is concerned.  Things are different where forbidding certain actions is concerned – where what is in question is, not requiring anyone to do anything, but merely taking some possible course of action off the table.  Suppose you have struggled with drug addiction in the past and I take steps to ensure that you cannot get access to heroin or crack cocaine.  Have I made it harder for you to be virtuous?  Obviously not.  Indeed, I have made it easier, at least in the sense that I have made it less likely that you will fall into a certain hard-to-overcome vice.  Of course, many libertarians will still argue that drug prohibition is a bad idea for other reasons.  But that is beside the present point, which is that Meyer’s “virtue must be freely chosen” mantra is by itself not a plausible argument for eliminating all laws against immoral behavior.

This brings us to another distinction, namely that between virtues which are best acquired through a struggle against the temptation to act viciously, and those which are not.  For example, if you are trying to acquire the virtue of courage, it is a good idea to put yourself in situations where you are going to be tempted to be cowardly and to struggle against that temptation.  But if you are trying to acquire the virtue of chastity, it is not a good idea to put yourself in situations where sexual temptations are likely to present themselves, and if you are struggling with drug addiction, it is not a good idea to put yourself in situations where others are using drugs.  Hence it would be silly to pretend that a society in which drugs and pornography are easily available is more likely to be a society in which sobriety and chastity are freely chosen.  It is quite obvious that such virtues will be less common in such a society.  Of course, many libertarians wouldn’t be bothered in the least by such a consequence, but fusionist libertarians would, and that is the point.  That “virtue must be freely chosen” simply doesn’t have, in every case of moral decision-making, the implications they think it does.  (By the way, those libertarians who wouldn’t be bothered by the fact that virtues like chastity and sobriety would be less common in a libertarian society shouldn’t pretend – as some of them do pretend – that a libertarian political order is “neutral” between competing moral and religious points of view.   Here as elsewhere, such a political order is by no means neutral, any more than Rawlsian liberalism is.) 

A third important distinction to be made is that between actions that are inherently wrong and those that are not inherently wrong but are wrong only under certain circumstances.  Suppose it is always wrong deliberately to get high to the point where reason is seriously impaired.  (I realize that not everyone agrees that this is always wrong, but that is irrelevant to the present point – it’s just an example.)  If so, then it follows that it is wrong to drink to excess, and also wrong to use crack cocaine.  But it is very easy for most people to drink without drinking to excess – that is, to the point where reason is seriously impaired – and without becoming addicted, while it is hardly easy to use crack cocaine in a way that doesn’t involve a serious impairment of reason or risk of addiction.  Hence the act of using alcohol cannot plausibly be said to be always or inherently wrong, while the act of using crack cocaine plausibly could be.  In that case, though, while Meyer’s “virtue must be freely chosen” mantra would give us a good reason to oppose alcohol prohibition, it would not give us a good reason to oppose prohibiting crack cocaine.  Alcohol use can be moderate, and when it is it adds a pleasantness to life that (I would argue) it would be wrong for government to deprive people of.  Hence it is not plausible to hold that alcohol prohibition can be justified in the name of promoting virtue.  But the same cannot be said of prohibiting crack use.  Such a prohibition would not (as outlawing alcohol would) deny anyone anything that is actually good, while it would make it much easier for many people to avoid a certain kind of vice.

Now the point of all this, again, is not to defend any sort of nanny state, nor even to defend any particular legal prohibition.  The latter have, to a large extent, to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.  (For the record, I oppose legalizing crack, but I also think the drug war has been carried out in too draconian a fashion.)  Whenever I criticize some libertarian argument, there’s always some yutz who concludes “Feser wants to impose his reactionary Catholicism on us all!” – as if the fact that I am no longer a libertarian entails that I simply must now be an authoritarian.  But to criticize some argument for P is not necessarily to endorse not-P. 

The point is rather to show that the issues are more complex than many libertarians, including fusionist libertarians, realize.  Shouting “Virtue must be freely chosen!” doesn’t by itself settle things any more than shouting “Taxation is theft!” does.  Some taxation does amount to theft – indeed, lots of actual taxation probably does, or at least is immoral all things considered – but taxation as such is not theft.  (Again, see the article on property rights linked to above.)  Similarly, while there is much truth in the claim that genuine virtue must be freely chosen, the claim is also subject to serious qualifications and does not by itself establish a strict, Nozick-style libertarianism.  Things are just more complicated than that.  Awful luck for people who think a serious political philosophy ought to be the sort of thing you can sum up in a bumper sticker slogan, but there it is. 

There are other problems with Meyer’s position.  Meyer’s arguments in In Defense of Freedom seem to presuppose an Ockhamist conception of freedom as a “freedom of indifference,” as opposed to the Thomistic view of freedom as “freedom for excellence.”  (We had reason to discuss this distinction in a recent post.)  Meyer also writes as if the only alternative to libertarian individualism is collectivism, ignoring the Aristotelian-Thomistic middle ground position according to which the level of the family, rather than that of either the individual or the state as a whole, is the crucial level of social analysis.  From an A-T point of view, our positive obligations to one another are not entirely contractual, but in part natural.  But the non-contractual ones are clearest and strongest at the level of the family, and are less strong the farther away we get from the family.  (As I note in the article on property rights linked to above, this puts the Aristotelian-Thomistic position closer to libertarianism than it is to socialism or egalitarian liberalism.  But it is still significantly short of doctrinaire libertarianism of the Nozick, Rand, or Rothbard sort.)

This is not to say that Meyer’s position does not have strengths as well.  It serves as a useful reminder that it is foolish, counterproductive, and dangerous to think that virtue can be engineered from the top down by centralized government.  While it is a mistake to think that government can play no role in shoring up virtue, it is also a mistake to think that its role is primary, or that it can reasonably consist in more than certain negative prohibitions (where even these are best handled at the local level wherever possible).  Meyer is also right to criticize conservatives like Russell Kirk for their opposition to abstract principle and theory.  Human life certainly cannot be reduced to the abstractions of political philosophy, but it doesn’t follow that such abstractions have no place.  (Here as always the Aristotelian natural law tradition provides the correct middle ground position, in this case between the excessive abstractionism of Platonic political philosophy and Kirk’s obscurantist opposition to general principle.) 

And, again, there is much of value in the general idea of a fusion of tradition and freedom.  From the side of the defenders of tradition, we can find it in classical natural law theory and its doctrine of subsidiarity.  From the side of the defenders of freedom, we can find it in Hayek’s insistence that liberty has its natural home in the context of long-standing moral traditions, which cannot reasonably be overthrown wholesale but can at most be tinkered with in a way consistent with the principles implicit in traditional practice.  Neither of these views gives you Meyer’s doctrinaire libertarianism, but they do show that to insist on the claims of virtue is by no means to embrace authoritarianism.   

113 comments:

Solomon's Chariots said...

Dr Feser, at some time in the future could you discuss how the natural law theory you have outlined in your recent articles would apply (if it applies at all) to intellectual property?

Thursday said...

A lot of traditionalist conservatives, T.S. Eliot, Russell Kirk and George Grant spring to mind, were very lukewarm about capitalism. They recognized its revolutionary force, its ability to uproot traditional communities and morals.

None of this, of course, means they were really socialists at heart.

Pattsce said...

I second Solomon's request above me. I find most of the libertarian anti-IP arguments to be completely materialist, but I also recognize the complexity of the issue.

Also, with respect to your post, I think it is spot on for the most part. I had a couple questions/comments about your drug arguments, though. I'm a bit of a teetotaler myself, but I do think the used appropriately vs. used to excess distinction is one that libertarians (myself at one point in my life) often ignore.

Some questions about specifics, though. Under the principles you are elaborating here, would it be just for a government to make it illegal to drink to excess? That is, if it is wrong to drink to excess (which I agree, it is, as it clearly inhibits a person's ability to flourish), can the state make that excessive drinking illegal while not making alcohol itself illegal?

Further, could the government allow certain drugs for some people while not for others? While I don't have any experience with crack or any other drugs, it seems possible, in Theory at least, for a particular person to be able to do crack without committing an immoral act---like with alcohol. Two beers for one person may be fine for one person, while the same two beers may be wrong for another person; perhaps there are people out there who can handle one hit of crack without doing anything wrong?

If so, would this also apply to laws against drinking to excess? That is, would there have to be specific laws for different sexual or racial groups? This sort of individually-tailored law obviously seems a bit off, and it's why I'm wrestling around with it. For justice's sake, there does seem to need to be some room for individuals to make mistakes, to do something not necessarily wrong to that point that it is wrong. Does natural law political philosophy allow for this freedom to make mistakes?

Further, if there were people, in theory, who could do those harder drugs "appropriately" (and I really am not certain there are) would it be just to make the drug illegal because Most people cannot use them appropriately?

I ask this not necessarily because I care about drugs (I genuinely dislike drugs), but drugs do seem to represent vice in a bigger way---which is, I think, the reason people love to argue about them. You could also ask this question about gambling or any other near-vice. Gambling does seem, unless highly regulated, to lead to vice. But gambling also seems like something that can be done without making a person vicious. For society, though, there does seem to be a clear line from gambling to great vice.

In other words, can a government act justly in outlawing something when it is Likely to lead to vice/likely to inhibit society's end, but does not Necessarily do so for individuals? When does alcohol (a not-necessarily vice inducing thing) become crack (a necessarily vice inducing thing) morally speaking?

I guess this is a bit of a prudential question, but it does seem that the inability to really nail down specifics is the reason most libertarians (and dumb college kids) say "what's the difference! make it all legal!" I don't take that position, for the reasons you elaborated here, but this does seem like something someone really needs to expand upon.

Interstellar Bill said...

A huge hole in libertarianism is its notion that a government's powers are entirely derived from those of its citizens, that it is 'nothing more' than a 'mere' collectivity with no ontologically intrinsic properties. (How many more reductionist slogans can be wedged in here?)

Well, excuse me, but there is no individual human right to capture, put to trial, and punish wrong-doers in general, as distinct from those particular dudes wronging you. Nor to define and control large swaths of territory, beyond one's own land. Obviously these are essential governmental functions, and every properly constituted government indeed has a full right to enforce Law and territorial integrity, and to exact the taxation necessary to fund itself. It's amazing that such a common-sense consideration has eluded so many, but it is so essential a consideration that without it no philosophy of government is even possible.

Any other powers claimed for government must derive from moral law, not mere convenience (such as with road-building, water-works, etc.). Public health, for example, pertains to sanitary enforcement, but not free medical care. Ditto for education. Non-core functions should be funded by tax credits and run by private enterprise, not by government bureaucracies (a sure disaster).

Having left out any possibility of true government, libertarians spend all their time critiquing that swollen monstrosity strangling our society, as if that took any brains.

Anonymous said...

@Dr. Feser,

http://gizmodo.com/5813821/scientists-create-first-memory-expansion-for-brain

Any comment?

james said...

@anon: I’m not Feser, but what does that have to do with anything? It’s not much a gotcha, if meant that way, since it’s clear to everyone that (say) being bonked on the head hard enough can affect one’s ability to remember things.

Damien S said...

Ed

What's your opinion on the libertarian argument that drug prohibition increases drug use and encourages criminal rackets? Do you know any good sources on the conservative side?

DNW said...

Edward Feser writes:

"From an A-T point of view, our positive obligations to one another are not entirely contractual, but in part natural. But the non-contractual ones are clearest and strongest at the level of the family, and are less strong the farther away we get from the family. (As I note in the article on property rights linked to above, this puts the Aristotelian-Thomistic position closer to libertarianism than it is to socialism or egalitarian liberalism. But it is still significantly short of doctrinaire libertarianism of the Nozick, Rand, or Rothbard sort.)"



This business of the family, as a natural, in contrast to a conventional "society", is probably key to many superficially political disputes.

Many opponents of classical liberalism demonstrably realize it as well, and thus make or made the abolition of the family and the private life sphere of these natural societies, the goal their philosophy (Engels).

It also seems to me that extreme libertarianism and collectivism share at their cores, both 1. a kind of natural values nihilism (Socialism: there is no 'justice' in the natural order), and 2. a problem dealing with universals.

They seem eitherto fall shrugging into and remain in nominalism, or to try to climb out by reifying and even worshiping abstractions such as society.



So anyway, in a Nozickian social arrangement some fellow pesters your daughter to become a drug addict and you are supposed to do what ... continue to respect his right to associative fellowship for the sake of the value of his kind's destructive and subversive activities?

Seems to me to lead to absurd and self-refuting consequences.

Unless of course, you think that the willing of the will - anyone's will - no matter what the intention, remains a higher value than the life that makes it possible.

Does libertarianism of the kind advanced by Nozick, even allow for the concept of a disordered will?

Anonymous said...

@Damien S

A good article by a conservative writer about Drug legalisation is available here:

http://www.city-journal.org/html/7_2_a1.html

He goes over almost all the pro-drug legalisation arguments and takes them apart.

Damien S said...

Thanks Anonymous i will definitely check it out.

Jinzang said...

a traditional natural law account of natural rights in general and property rights in particular still puts stringent limits on what government can do

Since Thomas Aquinas was fine with monarchy, it's hard for me to see how this is so.

Anonymous said...

Since Thomas Aquinas was fine with monarchy, it's hard for me to see how this is so.

Monarchy has limits.

Jinzang said...

Somewhat on topic, liberal commentator Matthew Yglesias remembers Robert Nozick:

Robert Nozick Was A Smart Man — Too Smart To Embrace The Doctrine Of Anarchy, State, and Utopia

DNW said...

Blogger Jinzang said...

Somewhat on topic, liberal commentator Matthew Yglesias remembers Robert Nozick ..."


Thanks. I glanced at that article, and followed the defensively framed link it provided to Stephen Metcalf's highly polemical, and even dishonestly constructed, piece in Slate, as well.

djindra said...

When I observed that this site was mixing politics and philosophy I heard bitter denials. But obviously I was correct.

Solomon's Chariots said...

djindra,

I don't know the exact circumstances but perhaps they were denying that the philosophy was being determined by the politics. I think this would be a case of politics being determined by philosophy, which I think most people agree is the right order to do things in.

Anonymous said...

When I observed that this site was mixing politics and philosophy I heard bitter denials. But obviously I was correct.

Congratulations on discovering political philosophy!

djindra said...

Anonymous,

Congratulations on discovering political philosophy!

Apparently it's some posters here who need to discover it. They should know what it is: political philosophy -- that is, philosophy in the service of politics. Do you know your place in the world? Political philosophers will create their "noble lie" and you'll wind up as gold, silver or bronze.

Anonymous said...

Political philosophers will create their "noble lie" and you'll wind up as gold, silver or bronze.

Sure were Plato and Aristotle creating noble lies...

Anonymous said...

Also, it's funny how you conflate using philosophy to analyze the environment of the zoon politikon from a certain point of view vis-a-vis being a partisan propagandist.

Apparently it's impossible for you to be one without being the other.

djindra said...

Anonymous,

I evaluate on a case by case basis. This case is clear.

Bill said...

Children first need to [be forced into] the habit of doing what is good . . . before they can meaningfully choose to do so [, but] because adults are adults and thus both responsible for themselves and at least to some extent set in their ways – it is usually counterproductive to try to force them to do what is good in the hope that genuinely virtuous character will result

Observe, however, that the state has highly imperfect control over how parents raise their children. We might, therefore, want to get children used to good behavior by forcing their parents. Since mom and dad are likely to drag junior along, a church attendance requirement might in fact be a good idea. It would probably be better to enforce the requirement via social sanctions rather than via Officer Bob, but social norms seem (to me) just as often to follow laws as the reverse, so . . .

djindra said...

Bill,

Since mom and dad are likely to drag junior along, a church attendance requirement might in fact be a good idea. It would probably be better to enforce the requirement via social sanctions rather than via Officer Bob, but social norms seem (to me) just as often to follow laws as the reverse, so . . .

Yes, that does seem to be where this all leads. Perhaps an occasional pop quiz would be in order too, just to make sure Mom and Dad and child were paying attention. It would actually be for their protection because some sort of evidence would be handy in those frequent cases where child goes wrong anyway.

djindra said...

Okay, I shouldn't. I know I shouldn't. I don't really want to, but I'm really disappointed with what's happening to "conservatives" these days. I used to consider myself one. That dream died years ago.

My thoughts on "Classical Natural Law Theory, Property Rights, and Taxation."

A yield sign is in the shape of a triangle. Yet its corners are rounded. That makes a yield sign a bad triangle. But is it a bad yield sign? Doritos have a triangular shape. But they are far from perfect. Would a better triangle make for better taste? What exactly does the "goodness" of a triangle have to do with "goodness" of anything else? Does a triangle have any telos whatsoever? If it does, what triangular objects share that same telos?

We know a good oak tree has deep roots. But what exactly does it mean that a "good" human has thirty-two teeth? The proposed "completely objective, factual standard of goodness and badness, better and worse" is good for judging what?

It's easy to judge a "good" triangle. But someone needs to ask, Are triangles a good? If the "good" objective standard cannot be shown to be a good in itself, or cannot be shown to be the "best" good when compared to the multiple other possible goods, the Classic Natural Law theory is a house of cards. In this particular rendering of the theory it's little more than a rationalization of an authoritarian bias. It's definitely an attack on American principles. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men have a natural purpose, that they are obligated by their Creator with certain unalienable obligations, that among these are protection of innocent life, seeking the assigned purpose, and the pursuit of morally upright wealth."

The tough questions are swept under the rug. No principles are defined. No guidelines. Who decides what our purpose is?

That person is the tyrant.

I think our founders understood messy liberty is better than fixed purpose. "Conservatives" these days are forgetting what liberty is.

This modest proposal is not a "mean between extremes." It's radical, not moderate. It will lead to a dismal life. And it's as false as communism or any other top-down, pigeonholing approach to government.

DNW said...

"The proposed "completely objective, factual standard of goodness and badness, better and worse" is good for judging what?"

How much of one's time and energy one should feel morally obligated to waste hauling water for dysfunctional types in the name of moral principles they rhetorically deploy as the basis of their claims; but scoff at privately.

It helps in deciding whether you are being conned by people who have been telling you that you are being conned by someone else.

djindra said...

DNW,

When someone denies we own our own bodies yet tries to claim we have other "rights" on the grounds that we produce things with those unowned bodies, you should know you're being conned. You really should. Not only is it nonsense, it's cynical to the extreme.

BenYachov said...

>When I observed that this site was mixing politics and philosophy I heard bitter denials. But obviously I was correct.

As I recall you claimed TLS was a political attack even though you admitted to not having read it.

Nobody denies Feser is a right wing guy. But how concepts like potency vs actually or existence vs essence have a political meaning is still a mystery.

But then again djindra you know nothing about philosophy and you see all discussions about God being politically based.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

Nobody denies Feser is a right wing guy. But how concepts like potency vs actually or existence vs essence have a political meaning is still a mystery.

The mystery should clear up if you read the paper linked above. (“Classical Natural Law Theory, Property Rights, and Taxation”)

DNW said...

June 27, 2011 10:50 AM
djindra said...

DNW,

When someone denies we own our own bodies yet tries to claim we have other "rights" on the grounds that we produce things with those unowned bodies, you should know you're being conned. You really should. Not only is it nonsense, it's cynical to the extreme."

Djindra,

I gave you an answer to one of your questions, and you responded by switching footing.

Nonetheless I'll patiently provide you with another answer:

The concept of Self-ownership can be denied without implying other-ownership, because self-ownership is itself logically incoherent.

The concept of self-ownership is defective when applied to the self because it is not as some of its careless advocates would like to imply, the logical equivalent to a concept endorsing a principle of personal inviolability. It is instead the logical equivalent to sovereignty over property.

The idea of ownership thus breaks down when applied to those who do the owning when they are in principle incapable of both laying down and picking up the owned thing or a functional substitute at will, as would be the consequence where selling the self into slavery was postulated as a legitimate move within the definitional system.

Once alienated, the very condition of ownership that the postulate is intended to preserve against destruction, is destroyed by its supposed fulfillment.

It also implies a ridiculous social demand on others that they legally recognize and respect such a deranged act of will and enable and cooperate with it.

There are those, I have recentky been informed, who try to avoid the intrinsiuc definitional incoherence of the concept of ownership as applied to the self and most especially as to that supposed "part of the self" we call foeti, by positing that alien-ability is not a critical connotation of the concept of ownership. But that amounts in my view to little more than what is pretty plainly is: a bad faith redefinition exercise.

djindra said...

DNW,

I didn't change the subject. I'm still not clear on what the subject was. Who do you think is dysfunctional? Who do you think is being conned?

The follow up I think I understand better. You deny self ownership is possible because we can't shed our bodies. But that makes no sense. You claim this permanent situation weakens claims of ownership. In fact, it strengthens them. So you're the one with the odd definition.

You also seem to claim the possibility of slavery affects the issue one way or the other. But it's irrelevant whether we grant voluntary slavery or not. Nor does it pose a social demand on us to condone or honor it.

DNW said...

djindra said...

" DNW,

I didn't change the subject. I'm still not clear on what the subject was. ... " June 28, 2011 7:10 PM



Djindra, I don't know why you are claiming to be unclear. You earlier had no trouble in recognizing the subject, which was your own question; even though I did not attribute the quote to you by name:


" DNW said...

' The proposed "completely objective, factual standard of goodness and badness, better and worse" is good for judging what?'

How much of one's time and energy one should feel morally obligated to waste hauling water for dysfunctional types in the name of moral principles they rhetorically deploy as the basis of their claims; but scoff at privately.

It helps in deciding whether you are being conned by people who have been telling you that you are being conned by someone else."

June 27, 2011 10:50 AM


Maybe you simply forgot what you had yourself earlier written.

In order to avoid this, try more direct quoting, and less freewheeling characterizing. The practice of quoting will help to keep exchanges focused more on the issues actually found in the text, and less on your uncertain interpretation of what you might or might not remember.

I'm sure you would much rather this be about the actual issues than about yourself. Wouldn't you?

djindra said...

DNW,

We don't seem to be communicating and it has nothing to do with back quoting. I simply don't understand how you think your response to my question -- "The proposed 'completely objective, factual standard of goodness and badness, better and worse' is good for judging what?" -- is an answer to that question. So when you claimed my response to your supposed answer was changing the subject, I plead ignorance. I cannot read your mind and your words are too vague to be of much help. My guess obviously missed the mark. So I still have to ask, who is scoffing at what? Who is wasting energy? Who is deploying moral principles rhetorically? What lead you to believe these things are happening?

DNW said...

djindra said...

DNW,

We don't seem to be communicating and it has nothing to do with back quoting. I simply don't understand how you think your response to my question -- "The proposed 'completely objective, factual standard of goodness and badness, better and worse' is good for judging what?" -- is an answer to that question. So when you claimed my response to your supposed answer was changing the subject, I plead ignorance. I cannot read your mind and your words are too vague to be of much help. My guess obviously missed the mark. So I still have to ask, who is scoffing at what? Who is wasting energy? Who is deploying moral principles rhetorically? What lead you to believe these things are happening?
June 29, 2011 1:07 PM


Djindra,

You asked me what a knowledge of a " ... completely objective, factual standard of goodness and badness, better and worse' is good for judging ..."


I told you it was good for separating the wheat from the chaff of (politically mediated I imply) interpersonal claims. It gives one I said, an idea of:


"How much of one's time and energy one should feel morally obligated to waste hauling water for dysfunctional types in the name of moral principles they rhetorically deploy as the basis of their claims; but scoff at privately.

It helps in deciding whether you are being conned by people who have been telling you that you are being conned by someone else."


Now you propose apparent bafflement that there should be any such distinctions between claims even made, and seem to require a list of names of offenders and the grounds for thinking them as such.


Perhaps we are talking past each other as you seem to believe - if your own blog writings are to be trusted - that the moral sense and therefore the derived principles of geese, and presumably men as well, are not something that requires reasoning about.

Yet you have yourself seemingly staked out a claim that a so-called "Straussian" noble lie is somehow wrong. How would you know? Because all geese should be equal geese because those that feel they should, feel that way?


It is through the very act of explicating and carefully reasoning about moral sentiments and principles that those who engage in the process hope will lead to alternatives to your basic view:


"My neighbor doesn't have the same point of view on the need for my sleep. He suggests my sleep requirements are a cultural construct. I proceed to reconstruct his nose."

Now we can all shrug off questions regarding the grounding and nature of supposed moral claims, Don.

Some people however, give critical thinking a shot, and try to evaluate the grounds of moral claims and counter claims before either complacently going along with the flock, or resorting to punching a nose.

djindra said...

DNW,

But Feser's "completely objective, factual standard of goodness and badness, better and worse" is bogus. He has merely argued that having ten fingers and ten toes is good for humans. Those "completely objective" standards lead, at best, to a dead end. They leads to the same place his triangle example leads -- nowhere. In fact, his triangle example demonstrates the ineptness of his position. A triangularly shaped object is not made objectively better or more perfect by conforming to the ideal form of a perfect triangle. His own example defeats his claim.

So you're just wrong. Feser's plan is not good for separating the wheat from the chaff of (politically mediated) interpersonal claims. It's good for nothing.

Yet even on that ten toe issue he'll get complaints. Should the government promote a policy of ten toes? How about two legs? Should the "Americans With Disabilities Act" be turned 180 degrees into the "Americans With Abilities Act?" I think Feser's proposal is likely to lead to not only moral tyranny but eugenics -- that is, if he has the courage of his convictions. IOW, Feser's is a foundation for barbarism, not goodness. He pretends we'll simply agree on a set of objective moral goods. But any honest person knows that will not happen. So then what is he going to do? I think choice will not be an option.

Some of us still think freedom itself is a moral good. Some of us think forced "morality" is not moral and is not a human good. I'm left scratching my head wondering how this authoritarian hogwash could be taking root in our freedom loving country. What is it that happened to such people that they lost all confidence in our great American ideals

Btw, my "I proceed to reconstruct his nose" was an attempt at humor. It wasn't a policy proposal. I'm sorry you missed that. IMO, this is supposed to be fun.

BenYachov said...

Your Tin-foil hat is showing djindra.

DNW said...

"What is it that happened to such people that they lost all confidence in our great American ideals ..."


People haven't lost all confidence in our great American ideals.

We are simply living nowadays with the sociopolitical consequences that result from previously buying into the social solidarity pimping sales pitches of political con men, who have successfully sold an apparently willing client class on the notion of the rightness of instituting a politically coercive cost shifting regime. Or as they like to style it: a program of "distributive justice".

That's why Feser's ideal of grasping what is really good and worth having and sustaining, versus what some nihilistic political huckster with a utilitarian spiel says is the collective good, appeals to rational men.


That said Don, and since you have partly framed this in personal terms, the more you (for example) are willing to commit to personally bearing the redounding burden of your own decisions (or the effects of your own makeup), the less I am likely to care what it is that you do with your own life; since, we are not thereby committed, in the words of the immortal Mr. Rawls, to "sharing one another's fate".

As far as my wishing to make you live some way for your own good? Well, if there is one thing that you ought not to do here, it is to confuse my basic moral predicates with those of Professor Feser and others here who are ultimately motivated or informed by notions of Christian charity and duty.

I share his interest in the logical foundations or at least the rationale for ascribing moral duties. But probably unlike him, and most of his regular commentators, I suspect, I am perfectly willing to stand aside and let you (for example) descend into a hell of your own making; be it in this world, or some other.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

In regard to that mystery of yours, re-read the last page or two of Philosophy of Mind (Persons). Feser admits the obvious. All of his philosophic enterprise is interconnected -- that and the theology.

Don.

BenYachov said...

>All of his philosophic enterprise is interconnected -- that and the theology.

There is a difference between believing everything in reality is connected vs believing everything is politics.

You need to change your tin-foil hat. It still smells of BLT.

djindra said...

DNW.

I'm very much in favor of rationality. Unfortunately it's hard to see this A-T mysticism as truly rational. I'm very much in favor of personal responsibility. If this was strictly about responsibility we might find we have much in common, regardless of the mysticism. We can agree "distributive justice" is a slippery slope. But I see that issue as including more than economics. When someone claims that government should decide "ought" issues either by "sharing" the wealth or "sharing" moral guidelines, it raises the same "distributive justice" red flag for me. But that's not because I'm against morality or against government itself. I'm no Libertarian. It's just that, like you, I am willing to let others descend into a hell of their own making. And the truth is, more good is likely to come out of that hell than of the one a government dictates.

I used to think the left were the ones who had lost confidence in American ideals. I thought conservatives were (mostly) trying to conserve those ideals. I no longer think that. Now neither side is to be trusted. It comes down to which side is most likely to unite and carry through. IMO, that's what Feser and many others are doing. They are trying to destroy our ideal from the foundation.

BenYachov said...

>I'm very much in favor of rationality. Unfortunately it's hard to see this A-T mysticism as truly rational.

Note that djindra hasn't actually studied anything on AT philosophy and also note how he equates philosophy/metaphysics with "mysticism".

It's hard not to laugh loudly and cruelly at this uneducated pretentious bigot.

It's like reading a YEC with a 6thgrade knowledge of biology critic Richard Dawkins on genetics.

DNW said...

Djindra,

I'm just going to make a couple of comments here.

They'll be predicated on the belief that you are not the last of the American Orangemen fighting Ian Paisley's battles from behind the U.S. Constitution, but that your expressions of concern over Feser's papist threat to freedom, are differently motivated.


You write:

"We can agree "distributive justice" is a slippery slope. But I see that issue as including more than economics."


1. a, You say that we probably agree that distributive justice is a slippery slope. We do not agree, if what you at all mean to imply that there is anything at all good with the theory and it's axioms, but that it might after all be regrettably liable to be taken to extremes in practice. I think it is a corrupt and specious principle based on false premisses, or incoherent ones, from the start. And I think that I made that clear with my comments quoting Rawls incoherent assumptions regarding talent being a kind of mysteriously bestowed "possession" which one can be said to either deserve the benefit of, or not. And Rawls feels one does not.

After all, your talents and abilities not part of you per se, Rawls apparently thinks, but rather an undeserved "gift" randomly dropped into your awaiting body from some supernatural realm ... which he undoubtedly does not really believe in anyway.

b, I cannot for the life of me see how the concept of (re)distributive justice, which is basically a taking by the government of some asset or attribute from one person in order to bestow the benefit of it upon another in the name of social solidarity and fairness, can be transmuted into something practically its opposite: i.e., conditioning a transfer of largess upon the beneficiary's adoption of a habit of self-responsible behavior.


You say that what,

"Feser and many others are ... [doing is] trying to destroy our ideal from the foundation.


2. Thus, you seem to believe that our polity was built by people who took their moral training at the feet of Diderot, Hobbes, and Hume. It is beyond doubt however that what they established was a constitutional polity based on natural law assumptions and principles of the kind Professor Fesser derives from the writings of Aristotle and Aquinas; though in the case of the Founders it may have been reformulated, or transmitted by and through, Cicero, Hooker or Locke.

The people who believe humans are meat-machines, basically fleshy expressions of crystal-like or fractal development patterns, and that "free development" is no more free ontologically than directed development, are the people you need to be talking to.

Even someone reasonable like Ernst Mayr writes in The Growth of Biological Thought, that the implications of his understanding of developmental reality for American Constitutional principles and our style of government, pretty much destroys its predicate.

Not every evolutionist is a political progressive, (read "collectivist" or "communitarian") who believes that of course. [http://darwinianconservatism.blogspot.com/ The Biology of Thomistic Natural Law: ST, I-II, q. 94, a. 2 ]

But so many are that it seems odd that it isn't their collectivist social ordering extrapolations, which they illegitimately derive from, and try to justify on the basis of their philosophical monism, that has you more worked up.

So ultimately I simply don't believe, based on what you have written on your own blog, that you are a conservative, (you admit you are not a libertarian) or that you really even care all that much about freedom "negatively formulated", as Obama would say.

You sound as though what you are really worried about is some kind of emergent Christian Phalangism, and it's implications for social coherence and inclusivity, and its implications for the acceptance of "participatory freedom" innovations and "enhancements".

djindra said...

DNW,

You say,

"It is beyond doubt however that what they established was a constitutional polity based on natural law assumptions and principles of the kind Professor Fesser derives from the writings of Aristotle and Aquinas; though in the case of the Founders it may have been reformulated, or transmitted by and through, Cicero, Hooker or Locke."

But Feser rejects the idea that Locke is in agreement with Aquinas and Aristotle. In fact, he seems to think they are in radical disagreement:

"The modern philosophical tradition inaugurated by the likes of Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, and Hume is defined, more than anything else, by its rejection of these commitments in favor of a mechanistic and (usually) nominalistic conception of the natural world. ...From the classical natural law theorist's point of view, all such theories appear to be “natural law” theories in name only, insofar as nature per se really plays no normative role in them (and couldn't, given that the moderns' conception of nature as devoid of teleology or final causes effectively strips nature of any intrinsic value or purpose)." -- from Feser's "Classical Natural Law Theory, Property Rights, and Taxation"

So I'd like to see you try to make your case. I believe it will be an exceptionally weak case.

djindra said...

DNW,

"We do not agree, if what you at all mean to imply that there is anything at all good with the theory and it's axioms, but that it might after all be regrettably liable to be taken to extremes in practice."

I did not imply that. And I did not mean to imply that.

djindra said...

DNW,

"And I think that I made that clear with my comments quoting Rawls incoherent assumptions regarding talent being a kind of mysteriously bestowed 'possession' which one can be said to either deserve the benefit of, or not. And Rawls feels one does not."

Quote him, but understand I am not Rawls.

"But so many are that it seems odd that it isn't their collectivist social ordering extrapolations, which they illegitimately derive from, and try to justify on the basis of their philosophical monism, that has you more worked up."

Feser is "worked up" by supposed extrapolations from philosophical monism. I don't have that in common with him.

"I simply don't believe, based on what you have written on your own blog, that you are a conservative, (you admit you are not a libertarian) or that you really even care all that much about freedom "negatively formulated", as Obama would say."

I am definitely not a "conservative" as defined by those who have transformed the term in the past few decades. And it comes as no surprise that you misread my blog.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

I've got another one for you. In "Philosophy of Mind" Feser makes a very big deal out of subjectivity. For example, p167: "third-person, external evidence just isn't by itself enough to determine meaning"

He repeats often the claim that objective science sees a colorless, odorless, tasteless world that can't explain our "rich domain" that "reflects a certain point of view on that reality: the first person or subjective point of view." p16. "Colors, tastes, and odors thus, in some sense, exist only in the mind of the observer." p76. He takes seriously Searle's assertion that computing only exists in the mind of the subjective observer. He takes as serious and weighty the possibility that my red may be your green. The general thrust of the book is that all meaning, all "intentionality" is subjective. His whole philosophy is based on the primacy of first-person subjectivity.

In short, he scoffs at objectivity.

So when he then posits, in midst of his subjective frenzy, that he believes a "completely objective, factual standard of goodness and badness, better and worse" will be used as a foundation for natural law, it's hard to take him seriously. It seems objectivity rides in on a white horse and saves his scalp just in the nick of time.

BenYachov said...

djindra,

I've already been your blog. I already read how you badly misread Searle(I have his Book BTW) and how others in your comments box took you too task for it.

Wow you are a real idiot! It is as I said. Watching you critique philosophy is like watching someone with a 6th grader's knowledge biology take on Richard Dawkins on genetics and evolution.

It's even bizarre how you can't even read a fellow Atheist like Searle correctly. Much less Feser.
What you think dualism is something only Theists can believe in? HELLO! You can be an anti-supernaturalist like Searle and still hold to a type of property dualism(mind you Searle denies being a Property dualism) or substance dualism.

It's not hard Atheitard.

Anyway why should I bust a hump answering your Trollish out of context proof texting?

>In short, he scoffs at objectivity.

That makes as much sense as claiming Feser denies the Trinity because he is Catholic.

Feser advocates moderate realism. It's clearly says so in the TLS.

Nuff said.

BenYachov said...

djindra,

Of course it's a stretch you could possibly know the difference between realism, conceptionalism vs nominalism from a hole in the head.

BenYachov said...

Additionally most academics who are philosophers of the Mind and naturalists narrowly define "dualism" in Cartesian terms.

Feser's point has always been not all dualism is cartesian.

It's not hard.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

1) Nobody on my blog made a dent in my case against Searle, but I wouldn't expect you to see that.

2) Feser still contradicts himself. One day he likes subjectivity. The next he likes objectivity.

BenYachov said...

>1) Nobody on my blog made a dent in my case against Searle, but I wouldn't expect you to see that.

Of don't see that. I believe in Unicorns or your deluded fantasies that you understand philosophy.

>2) Feser still contradicts himself. One day he likes subjectivity. The next he likes objectivity.

Yes and Kirk Cameron & Ray Comefort both say Richard Dawkins is wrong about Evolution.

Whom should I believe? The YEC ex-sitcom actor and a minister or a PhD in biology?

Whom else should I believe? The idiot troll who is militantly anti-Philosophy or a PhD in philosophy.

You can't even understand an Atheist philosopher like Searle.

You are pathetic.

BenYachov said...

Let me rephrase the kids distracted me.

>1) Nobody on my blog made a dent in my case against Searle, but I wouldn't expect you to see that.

Of course I don't see that. I don't see Unicorns either or your deluded fantasy you actually understand philosophy.

djindra said...

"Anyway why should I bust a hump answering your Trollish out of context proof texting?"

You ask me to read, I do. I provide references to show why arguments are poor. Then you clam up. You're all bluster. You don't answer because you can't. So of course it's a waste of time to show why I'm quoting out-of-context. Why waste time when you're wrong? The truth is, you don't have the evidence to answer my "proof texting." But that's just the beginning of the story. You don't appear to have the tools to understand that Searle and Feser make fraudulent arguments. You think owning their books gives you all the proof you need. But try understanding what you read. Try using a critical eye. Try using that rational self that you probably assume is part of your essense. That's true ownership in this realm of ideas.

BenYachov said...

djindra

Dawkins wouldn't waste his time arguing with a YEC with a 6th grade knowledge of biology even if the little fundie pulled a "Well that's because you know I'm right & if you are so knowledgeable and an Oxford Don you should be able to answer my citations from Darwin proving he didn't know what he was talking about!" heckle out of his fat arse.

Seriously troll boy? That's what you are going with?

PLUEEZ!

djindra you are just an idiot and Troll. Don't get ideas above your station in life. Ok?

Seriously!

djindra said...

BenYachov,

If Dawkins argued like you do I wouldn't take him seriously either.

BenYachov said...

>If Dawkins argued like you do I wouldn't take him seriously either.

He doesn't argue like me.

He "argues" like you(i.e on matters pertaining to subjects outside his field of expertise).

Nuff said.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

Btw, what is your field of expertise?

BenYachov said...

I have a better question.

Why are you here?

Do you really believe mindlessly ridiculing both philosophy and religious belief from a position of obvious ignorance is persuasive?

Who here have you persuaded?

>Btw, what is your field of expertise?

Raising three autistic children and taking time out to smell the roses, play a few odd video games and verbally bashing, without mercy, pretentious uneducated idiots who think mere denial of gods equals having the ability to reason & think.

As opposed to actually learning how to reason and how to argue thoughtfully for it's own sake and not treating it like mere base politics by other means.

Conquackery?

PLUEEZ! You are so boring.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

I'm glad to know your expertise isn't philosophy. But tell the truth. You do find me entertaining. At least give me that. It's Saturday night.

BenYachov said...

>But tell the truth. You do find me entertaining.

Rather I find you embody every negative stereotype I have about New Atheists.

Why do you insist on playing that part?

Sad really and such a waste of intellect not to mention a soul.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

I have said that Feser's philosophy is political. I have said that philosophy and theology are often the same thing. You've scoffed at this. In this thread you wrote, "Nobody denies Feser is a right wing guy. But how concepts like potency vs actually or existence vs essence have a political meaning is still a mystery."

Well, I checked out a library copy of TLS yesterday. I'm about 25% through. And I've got to tell you, it confirms one or two things about you which I had already suspected:

1) You understand little of what you read.

and/or,

2) You are deceptive.

Here are two items from the book.

p13: "As we shall see, the radical differences between these worldviews with respect to what at first glance might seem fairly abstruse questions of metaphysics -- the relationship between the universal and the particular, form and matter, substance and attributes, the nature of cause and effect, and so forth -- in fact have dramatic repercussions for religion, morality, and even politics."

p.42: "Indeed, it is not too much of an exaggeration to say that virtually every major religious, moral, and political controversy of the last several decades -- of the last several centuries, in fact -- in some way rests on a disagreement, even if implicit and unnoticed, over the 'problem of universals.' "

These are just two items from a book that exudes a religious and political agenda. It's little more than a screed against modernity which uses "abstruse questions" as a point of entry. Some would rather attack abortion and homosexuality head-on. TLS intends to pull the rug from underneath their feet.

You claim you have read this book. I'll accept that as true. But I have a hard time believing you could think Feser is some sort of misunderstood, dispassionate academic merely interested in obscure truths about being. He is unashamedly on a political crusade. He's not bashful about it. He promises to deliver on this crusade from the start. Virtually every point is about ramifications that supposedly necessarily follow from foundational ideas. I simply do not believe you could have missed this pervasive argument. So I'm left with option two. You intend to deceive. That doesn't really surprise me. Feser intends to deceive too. So you are a willing disciple.

But don't delude yourself any further. Deception doesn't intimidate me. Philosophers who try to deceive don't intimidated me. Disciples don't intimidate me.

Jennifer said...

Sir, this is one of the best and most reassuringly wise political articles I've ever seen. Thank you, thank you!

BenYachov said...

>Well, I checked out a library copy of TLS yesterday. I'm about 25% through. And I've got to tell you, it confirms one or two things about you which I had already suspected:

>1) You understand little of what you read.

and/or,

>2) You are deceptive.

I reply: You just hung yourself!

Rather this response shows your hand. You haven't even finished reading the book(you read like 40 pages) and already show you are bias against it. It shows you have already decided what the book is about and are reading into it the meaning you wish it to have.

How is that rational, moral or logical?

It simply isn't & you kill your own credibility.

>Here are two items from the book.

p13:......

p42.......


Like I already said "There is a difference between believing everything in reality is connected vs believing everything is politics."

Which clarifies what I meant earlier by asking what potency and actuality etc had to do with politics.

Your misquoting of my words and misrepresentation of what I said is further proof you are pathological liar and a hypocrite.

>These are just two items from a book that exudes a religious and political agenda.

I fail to see how stating the connection between philosophy religion, morality, and even politics is the same as claiming philosophy is solely about politics?

That is quite a stretch.

You are nuts & a true paranoid. The tin foiled hat is rotting your brain.

BenYachov said...

>But I have a hard time believing you could think Feser is some sort of misunderstood, dispassionate academic merely interested in obscure truths about being.

I don't make that claim. That is just your fantasy.

>It's little more than a screed against modernity which uses "abstruse questions" as a point of entry.

Rather it is a critique of modern philosophy. Or more specifically, to those of us who actuallyread more than 40 pages it is a critique of post enlightenment philosophy and a defense of classic philosophy & a response to the critiques of the enlightenment and post enlightenment era's polemics against classicalism.

>Some would rather attack abortion and homosexuality head-on. TLS intends to pull the rug from underneath their feet.

Of course if you understood philosophy you could write a defense of modern philosophy and polemic the classical. But since you equate things that are related to politics with politics itself then I'm afraid all you can offer is a political screed that will just come off as both ignorant and boring. Not to mention ineffective.

Ben Stein complaining about the alleged relationship between Nazi politics and Darwin's theory really has nothing to do with the scientific or philosophical arguments for evolution.

It's just politics, paranoia and bad argument. You using Stein's bad tactics against Feser is equally stupid and even less convincing.

>But don't delude yourself any further. Deception doesn't intimidate me. Philosophers who try to deceive don't intimidated me. Disciples don't intimidate me.

I seem to remember telling you that you can't fake it here. Why you believe I will be moved by your reading into Feser what you had already decided he is all about, before even picking up a single book he wrote, much less read, is convincing I'll never understand?

Look at the empirical evidence. You already formed your weird opinions on Feser after only reading just one article.

Your are like the White Supremacist who sees one lazy black man, falsely infers all blacks are lazy, and selectively looks for lazy persons who are black & lazy while selectively ignoring hard working ones and lazy white people.

It's sick and bigoted.

I can't stand bigots.

But the biggest tragedy is you read the first 40 somthing pages and I bet you still don't understand the difference between Realism, Nominalism and Conceptionalism!

Thus you still haven't learned any philosophy.

What a loser!

BenYachov said...

BTW djindra if the main and sole focus of TLS is politics then how come the word "politics" isn't even listed in the index?

Conservatism is mentioned once on page 57. Liberalism is about 11 pages total out of 299 in groups of 2 & 3 scatted threw out the book.

Natural Law is about 30 pages.

Mechanistic Philosophy is about 40 page of material.

In fact the only "political" chapter is chapter one where Feser attacks the New Atheists for conflating philosophy with politics and their political obsessions.

Of course Feser praises philosophically learned Atheists who do not belong to the Brights movement. He mentions AJ Flew was conservative while still an Atheist.

That is the sum of the "politics" in the TSL.

That tin foil hat must wear heavily on you.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

"You haven't even finished reading the book(you read like 40 pages) and already show you are bias against it."

Of course I'm biased against it. I make no secret of that. I'm biased against deception and propaganda. You should be too. So I'm being "rational, moral and logical" with my skepticism. I don't check these in at the door when I enter. I judge arguments as they are made. If that's "hanging myself" I prefer that to being a dupe.

"Your misquoting of my words..."

I quoted you directly. Are you trying to pull a Weiner on me?

"There is a difference between believing everything in reality is connected vs believing everything is politics."

This is funny. Find where I said everything is politics. You claim these words clarify what you mean. But you just become more deceptive. It's clear by your meaning of "believing everything in reality is connected" is intended to excuse the bogus political ramifications of those connections. Feser freely admits the political connections. Those connections are causally preposterous. But Feser proves I was correct about him. He makes those connections, preposterous as they are. I suppose he knows his puppies.

"I fail to see how stating the connection between philosophy religion, morality, and even politics is the same as claiming philosophy is solely about politics?"

So do I. But you're arguing with a straw man, not me. This is a danger with deception. You repeat your deception so often you actually start believing it. It's false memory syndrome.


"Of course if you understood philosophy you could write a defense of modern philosophy and polemic the classical."

I'm working on it. Of course I won't defend the whole of modern philosophy. That's impossible. Schools disagree. But I will defend some of it. I will counter the sloppy arguments Feser applies.

"Ben Stein complaining about the alleged relationship between Nazi politics and Darwin's theory really has nothing to do with the scientific or philosophical arguments for evolution."

Well how about that. We might agree on something.

"You already formed your weird opinions on Feser after only reading just one article."

More than one. Nevertheless, 1) my opinions are tentative, 2) All further reading has corroborate my early impressions.

"In fact the only 'political' chapter is chapter one..."

It's political through page 70. We shall see about the rest...

djindra said...

BenYachov,

"I bet you still don't understand the difference between Realism, Nominalism and Conceptionalism!"

This brings up TLS, page 49: "formulating a plausible case for either conceptualism or nominalism is, at best, very hard to pull off.... It is no good appealing (as is often done) to the famous principle of Ockham's razor as a motivation." Do you have the tools to notice the curious deception here? Hint: How did Ockham feel about nominalism?

I beg to differ with Feser's exoteric meaning. Nominalism is very easy to defend. And I'm tempted to think Feser is winking at people who know the esoteric meaning of his challenge while he continues to feed simple and impatient minds. But maybe I give Feser too much credit (if I can call it that).

Btw, George Weigel covered the same material in "The Cube and the Cathedral."

BenYachov said...

djindra you are a raving nuter.

>Of course I'm biased against it. I make no secret of that. I'm biased against deception and propaganda.

Nice dodge. It is irrational to prejudge something you have never read. It is irrational to read your own made up bias as a result of that into you reading.

You are simply not rational.

>So I'm being "rational, moral and logical" with my skepticism. I don't check these in at the door when I enter. I judge arguments as they are made. If that's "hanging myself" I prefer that to being a dupe.

You dismiss arguments you can't answer that is true. But you give no rational responses. Not even one.

>I quoted you directly. Are you trying to pull a Weiner on me?

I quoted myself directly too. You quoted me out of context. It's called being a dick.

>This is funny. Find where I said everything is politics. You claim these words clarify what you mean. But you just become more deceptive.

Why do you keep interjecting politics then? Why can't you just argue the philosophy? You don't even argue the merit of a political position. You snark at it but make no rational counter argument. How is that not deceptive? It's also boring.

BenYachov said...

>It's clear by your meaning of "believing everything in reality is connected" is intended to excuse the bogus political ramifications of those connections.

I know what I meant when I said it. Feser's conservative politics are irrelevant to his defense of classic philosophy. Just as Eric Raitan's liberal politics are irrelevant to his philosophical take down of Richard Dawkin's bad arguments against religion.

I can separate politics from philosophy you OTOH view everything threw the prism of politics which is still boring on your part.

>Feser freely admits the political connections.

Sorry the citations you gave said philosophical teachings have "repercussions" on many things one of which that was listed is politics and that the subject of Universals is related to several controversys one of which is politics.

You can't even read you own citations from Feser. This tells me either you don't understand him or you are a liar.

>Those connections are causally preposterous. But Feser proves I was correct about him. He makes those connections, preposterous as they are. I suppose he knows his puppies.

I doubt you can make a rational argument to that effect. It would require two things you lack. A working knowledge of philosophy and an open mind.

>So do I. But you're arguing with a straw man, not me. This is a danger with deception. You repeat your deception so often you actually start believing it. It's false memory syndrome.

This is your tin foil hat speaking now eh?

>I'm working on it.

Which is a tactile admission you don't know what you are talking about yet insist on offering your worthless blather on the subject.

>Of course I won't defend the whole of modern philosophy. That's impossible. Schools disagree. But I will defend some of it. I will counter the sloppy arguments Feser applies.

Do you even have a Bachelors in philosophy how can you argue with a PhD? Especially since you hold all philosophy in contempt based on your weird prejudices and willful ignorance? You couldn't even read Searle correctly and he is an Atheist.

Pathetic!

>Well how about that. We might agree on something.

Can't you read? You just agreed you are using bad tactics against Feser comparable to the one's Ben Stein uses against Darwin? That is my accusation against you. You agree with me? Wow your poor reading comprehensions skills do not inspire confidence.

>More than one. Nevertheless, 1) my opinions are tentative,

You wacko jacko accusations that Feser is deceptive is "tentative"?

Right sure pal! You are a nut.

> 2) All further reading has corroborate my early impressions.

Meaning you are succeeding in reading into him the meaning you wish to find. Who can live in such a paranoid world?

BenYachov said...

>This brings up TLS, page 49:

Rather the discussion starts on page 39.

>"formulating a plausible case for either conceptualism or nominalism is, at best, very hard to pull off.... It is no good appealing (as is often done) to the famous principle of Ockham's razor as a motivation."

I reply: And he showed why this is so in the previous nine pages.

>Do you have the tools to notice the curious deception here? Hint: How did Ockham feel about nominalism?

I reply: No I don't since I don't wear your tin foil hat and I actually know something about the subject matter. Ockham was himself a nominalist. According to the Stanford online Encyclopedia he was "best known today for his espousal of metaphysical nominalism".

What you missed that?

Beside the point is this is done to avoid realism and Feser makes a convincing case Ockham's razor applied to his own nominalism implies realism.

Conceptualism & nominalism are only simpler in the sense Astronomy would be simpler if there where no stars or planets.

>I beg to differ with Feser's exoteric meaning.

That is you dismiss a ten page argument with snark since it is easier than actually making a real counter argument. Not that you have the skill or the knowledge for that anyway.

>Nominalism is very easy to defend.

Bold and silly claim from someone who has admitted to have never studies Hume who was the premiere nominalist. Hume was to Ockham what Aquinas was to Aristotle.

Are you for real?

>And I'm tempted to think Feser is winking at people who know the esoteric meaning of his challenge while he continues to feed simple and impatient minds.

This blather doesn't make any sense. The tin foil hat is talking again.

>But maybe I give Feser too much credit (if I can call it that).

Rather you have delusions of grandeur that are jaw dropping.

I warned you that you can't fake it here.

I was right.

BenYachov said...

>Btw, George Weigel covered the same material in "The Cube and the Cathedral."

The Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God

Again further proof you view everything threw the prism of politics.

Remember you said"Find where I said everything is politics."

What does a book of politics have to do with a book on the Philosophy of Aristotle and it use in defending the existence of God?

What a nut!

BenYachov said...

BTW let go back a bit.

>I have said that Feser's philosophy is political. I have said that philosophy and theology are often the same thing. You've scoffed at this.

Naturally since Feser's philosophy is that of Aquinas and Aristotle. It is beyond silly to assume Aquinas and Aristotle are American Conservatives. That Feser is an American Conservative does not negate the existence of Aristotelian and Thomistic philosophers who are not conservatives.

>In this thread you wrote, "Nobody denies Feser is a right wing guy. But how concepts like potency vs actually or existence vs essence have a political meaning is still a mystery."

They don't have a political meaning. Feser never claims they do. He claims on page 13 the concepts have "repercussions" in many areas one of which is politics but that is not the same as claiming they are political terms.
Or that his philosophy is political.

Sure the Nazis politically believe in the rule of the strong and the survival of the fit. But that doesn't mean Darwin's theory is political nazism.

Unless we agree with your weirdness then Ben Stein was right to make that connection.

BenYachov said...

additional:

>I have said that philosophy and theology are often the same thing. You've scoffed at this.

What theology do Searle, Dennett, Smith, Nagel, Sobel, Rey and Stephen Law espouse then?

Especially since they are all Atheists.

BenYachov said...

They are also philosopher.

I just thought I'd mention that since djindra you are likely too thick to know that.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

"It is irrational to prejudge something you have never read."

But it's not irrational to judge as you are reading. Philosophers generally depend on their readers to judge as they read, otherwise philosophers would not ask us to accept or reject certain propositions and lines of argument along the way.

"Why do you keep interjecting politics then?"

Ask Feser. And ask yourself why you keep bringing it back to politics too.

"Feser's conservative politics are irrelevant to his defense of classic philosophy."

Bottom line is, it doesn't matter which you think comes first. He claims to be able to draw those causal connections from axioms to the voting booth. That in itself makes every link in the chain important to him. His claim is that, not only his politics, but all politics, is determined (or ought to be) by this chain. That necessarily makes any link in the chain political. And it makes disputes about obscurities like nominalism political. This is not my interpretation of the situation. This is Feser's interpretation of the situation. There is no way I can dispute Feser's silly arguments without *him* (forget me) taking it as political.

"Sorry the citations you gave said philosophical teachings have 'repercussions'... "

Sorry, but you clearly can't comprehend Feser (or chose to prevaricate) -- and there are many more citations.

"A working knowledge of philosophy and an open mind."

No, I do not have an open mind. And neither do you. So we can dispense with that pretense.

"....how can you argue with a PhD?"

No one argues with a PhD. We argue with people. We argue over ideas. Feser's ideas are simple-minded and contradictory -- like holding that "objective" justice can be derived from subjective minds. It's got to be one or the other. Either both are subjective or both are objective.

"You couldn't even read Searle correctly and he is an Atheist."

First, I read him correctly. But forget that. Why should I have an easier time reading Searle than Feser?

"You just agreed you are using bad tactics against Feser..."

I agreed that Nazi politics has nothing to do with arguments for evolution. When I say I agree with something I don't mean I agree with every odd analogy you might draw from it.

"What does a book of politics have to do with a book on the Philosophy of Aristotle and it use in defending the existence of God?"

Read it and find out. But you blame me as if I wrote the lousy thing. You see, I'm not making this about politics. They are.

"That Feser is an American Conservative does not negate the existence of Aristotelian and Thomistic philosophers who are not conservatives."

No, but it does influence his choice in rejecting some philosophers and embracing others. It does influence the application of those "cafeteria" choices in our own time.

"What theology do Searle, Dennett, Smith, Nagel, Sobel, Rey and Stephen Law espouse then?"

I've read some Searle on mind. Does he draw theological conclusions from that? Or is this that tired, incoherent accusation that if it's not about theology it's theology?

djindra said...

BenYachov,

"Ockham was himself a nominalist."

Exactly. So Feser brushes passed the fact that Ockham, who was born one lifetime after Aquinas, was not only a scholastic philosopher but a nominalist. Feser is actually saying, "If you wish to argue for nominalism, it is no good appealing to arguments (as a misguided Ockham did) for nominalism." So, likewise, "It's no good for a realist to appeal to arguments for realism." Accept on faith, I suppose.

"Feser makes a convincing case Ockham's razor applied to his own nominalism implies realism."

See, you don't get it. Ockham used Ockham's razor to argue for nominalism.

"Conceptualism & nominalism are only simpler in the sense Astronomy would be simpler if there where no stars or planets."

We know there are planets. We don't know there are forms. Feser makes this idiotic analogy knowing full well that realism is itself the question. He cannot argue from analogy from a virtually certain physical truth, to the mystical truth in question. It's not simply a bad analogy. It's an intellectually dishonest one.

"And he showed why this is so in the previous nine pages."

He showed poor arguments for nine pages.

Question. If "form" resides in matter, and must, where does the form for forms reside? Where does the form for "similarity" reside? The form for "perfection?" The form for "God?"

Question, What of clubbed feet? Why can't we have a form for it? Surely we generalize on that. It's ad hoc to claim such forms cannot exist simply because they don't seem perfect to us.

Question, If a form for "triangle" is eternal, is the form for "computer" eternal? Hula Hoop? If so, they are eternal without a dependence on God. They *are* gods. And since the Hula Hoop is a man generated idea, eternal forms are man made.

Question, When we destroy a chair, when does the form for chair magically turn into the form for sawdust? At what point in the destruction? When we modify a chair, when does the form magically switch to "bench?"

There are many questions that Feser breezes by.

BenYachov said...

>But it's not irrational to judge as you are reading.

But you have not done that you have prejudged before reading & you are reading into Feser what you want him to mean.

It's obvious and it's irrational.

>Ask Feser. And ask yourself why you keep bringing it back to politics too.

I don't consider arguments for the existence of God political. They can't be since there are convervative Atheists and Liberals like Raitan who argue against Atheists.

Politics is your irrational obsession.

>Bottom line is, it doesn't matter which you think comes first. He claims to be able to draw those causal connections from axioms to the voting booth.

I thought TLS was a book that defended Classic Philosophy & refuted the claims of New Atheists and gave proofs for the existence of God.

You seem to want to argue you own pet themes which you clearly read into Feser while you cowardly avoid actually responding to his arguments.

It's pathetic!

>Sorry, but you clearly can't comprehend Feser (or chose to prevaricate) -- and there are many more citations.

Moving the goal post I see! You misquotes didn't go down. So you offer more misquotes, misreadings and misrepresentations.

Wow that Tin foil hat has it's tendrals deep in your brain. Like the PUPPET MASTER written by what's his name who wrote STARSHIP TROOPERS.

>Read it and find out. But you blame me as if I wrote the lousy thing. You see, I'm not making this about politics. They are.

Typical of you when called out on your errors you back-peddle and pretend you where talking about something else.

You did it on you own blog when you misrepresented Searle you have done it dozens of times here.

It's getting old.

>I agreed that Nazi politics has nothing to do with arguments for evolution. When I say I agree with something I don't mean I agree with every odd analogy you might draw from it.

The point is no difference the way Ben Stein treats or reads Darwin vs how you threat & read Feser.

You are both peas in a Pod! Live with it!

>First, I read him [Searle] correctly. But forget that.

You are alone in that set. All your combox critics some I note where Atheists and critics of Feser took you to task. I don't blame you for wanting to forget it. You embarrassed yourself.

>Why should I have an easier time reading Searle than Feser?

This is a tactile admission you don't understand what you are reading. Thus your opinions mean nothing.

BenYachov said...

>No one argues with a PhD. We argue with people.

Based on your weird non-logic any polemic against Dawkins on the subject of the scientific case for Evolution is valid even if it comes from someone with a 7th grade knowledge of biology.

That is not rational and you are not rational.

>We argue over ideas.

Sophisticated ideas in the area of philosophy. Philosophy is not about offering opinions. It's about thinking and using your intellect to interpret reality.

You clearly think it is about opinions. How pathetic!

>Feser's ideas are simple-minded and contradictory -- like holding that "objective" justice can be derived from subjective minds.

You haven't proven justice is the produce of subjective minds. You merely assume it without proof.
You fail basic logic and basic philosophical analysis.

>It's got to be one or the other. Either both are subjective or both are objective.

The tin foil hat speaks again ranting it's esoteric incoherent weirdness for all to see.

BenYachov said...

>Exactly. So Feser brushes passed the fact that Ockham, who was born one lifetime after Aquinas, was not only a scholastic philosopher but a nominalist.

This is what you get when you don't read the whole book. Feser mentions Ockham was a scholastic & when he lived on page 167 the second page of the Fifth Chapter.

Loser!!!!

BTW what does this have to do with the actual argument Feser used against using Ockham's razor to support either conceptionalism or nominalism?

>Feser is actually saying, "If you wish to argue for nominalism, it is no good appealing to arguments (as a misguided Ockham did) for nominalism."

Rather he showed on pages 42 which his nine examples why Nominalism is incoherent. If you can actually specifically tell me why those nine arguments are wrong with actual philosophical logic I would love to hear it. Your emotive responses are idiotic and childish and no substitute for rational argument.

>So, likewise, "It's no good for a realist to appeal to arguments for realism." Accept on faith, I suppose.

Where does Feser say that? Cite me a passage? Sorry realism is the default view because it is coherent and the simple alternative to Conceptionalism and Nominalism which are internally incoherent.

Loser!

>See, you don't get it. Ockham used Ockham's razor to argue for nominalism.

Yes and Feser point by point shows why Ockham was wrong and where his argument failed. If you have a meaningful rebuttal let's here it?

All I get from you is whining and bitching and political bullcrap.

It's sad.

BenYachov said...

>We know there are planets. We don't know there are forms.

Feser is not arguing that. You really need to read. Indeed he will embrace on page 49 Aristotle's criticism of Plato's strong realism.

You can't read Feser correctly to save your life.

I tried to spare you the embarrassment before but here we are now.


>Feser makes this idiotic analogy knowing full well that realism is itself the question.

Moderate realism, pretending there are no gradations in realism is ignorant and treating them all unequivocally is just dumb.

>He cannot argue from analogy from a virtually certain physical truth, to the mystical truth in question.

He is not making a scientific argument here jerkoff. He is making a philosophical one. You can't tell the difference. It's bizarre you hold all the errors of Positivism and empiricism yet never read Hume?

>It's not simply a bad analogy. It's an intellectually dishonest one.

Only because your own philosophical belief is kneejerk positivism and empiricism which you read into everything. You are clearly ignorant of other philosophical schools indeed you are ignorant of philosophy in general.

It just goes down hill from here.

BenYachov said...

>Question. If "form" resides in matter, and must, where does the form for forms reside? Where does the form for "similarity" reside? The form for "perfection?" The form for "God?"

So you don't get yet that Feser only brought up Plato as an introduction to Aristotle? Or that Aristotle and Feser reject Plato's strong realism?

I guess not. Stop faking it.

>Question, What of clubbed feet? Why can't we have a form for it? Surely we generalize on that. It's ad hoc to claim such forms cannot exist simply because they don't seem perfect to us.

Where does Feser advocate Plato's theory of strong forms? Read page 50 last paragraph bottom of the page.

Feser says Aristotle said Plato "needed to be brought down to earth a bit".

You lied to me! You did not read the book. You are merely just skimming threw it looking for text you can misquote for your own dishonest purposes!

>Question, If a form for "triangle" is eternal, is the form.....

What part of Feser is a moderate realist do you not understand? What part of Feser advocates Aristotle's rejection of Plato's strong realism do you not understand? Did you really read beyond page 49 or did you just skim it?

It's in the book you clearly did not read and you lied to me when you claim you did!

You are a bad liar djindra!

>There are many questions that Feser breezes by.

You said you read Plato? That is self evident. But you clearly didn't read Feser because he clearly with Aristotle rejects Plato's strong realism.

It's on page 50.

Worse than stupid!

BenYachov said...

BTW if considering your Troll tactics to date I predict you will likely respond by claiming "I never said Feser accepted strong realism or Plato".

But then why badger Feser which questions defending Platonic concepts from an Aristotelian who reject strong realism in favor of moderate realism?

Don't even try to back-peddle or lie your way out here.

I will show you no mercy.

BenYachov said...

Additional:

The difference between Aristotle vs Plato on forms is Aristotle didn't believe in a realm of forms or that Forms could exist apart from the objects they instantiate.

Aquinas OTOH believes something like (but not the same) the realm of form was true. That some types of forms could exist without matter. Like angels or the Human Soul. But in regards to material objects he was a moderate realist.

>If a form for "triangle" is eternal, is the form for "computer" eternal? Hula Hoop? If so, they are eternal without a dependence on God. They *are* gods. And since the Hula Hoop is a man generated idea, eternal forms are man made.

>Question, When we destroy a chair, when does the form for chair magically turn into the form for sawdust? At what point in the destruction? When we modify a chair, when does the form magically switch to "bench?"

We have seen this all before.

BenYachov said...

djindra your misreading of both Feser and philosophy in general reminds me of the following satrie via Feser.

QUOTE-Skeptic: Science is BS. Physicists believe in these things called “quarks,” which are little flavored particles that spin around and work like magic charms. Their evidence is that they read about them in a James Joyce novel. Some of them think the universe is made up of tiny shoelaces tied together, though they admit that they have no evidence for this and have to take it on faith. Einstein said morality is all relative – which is why he stole his ideas from this guy who worked in a patent office, and why Richard Feynman stole atomic secrets during WWII. Meanwhile, the chemists contradict the physicists and believe instead in little colored balls held together by sticks. Biologists believe monkeys can give birth to human beings. What a bunch of crap! It’s child abuse to teach kids about this stuff in schools.

Scientist: Are you joking? If not, I suggest that you actually read some science before criticizing it.

Skeptic: I’ve already read a lot about it, in blog comboxes like this one. And why should I waste my time reading anything else? I already know it’s all BS! Didn’t you hear the examples I just gave?

Scientist: No, you’re missing my point. You’ve completely distorted what scientists actually say. It’s not remotely as silly as you think it is. In fact it’s not silly at all. But you need to actually read the stuff to see that.

Skeptic: So you deny that physicists believe in quarks? What flavor are your quarks, chocolate or vanilla? Do you deny that they think we came from monkeys? Which monkey was your mother?END

That is pretty dead on when we read your critiques of Forms, Feser and philosophy.

Did you receive any education at all? Or are you just some 14 year old trying to fake it?

djindra said...

BenYachov,

"Where does Feser advocate Plato's theory of strong forms?"

I'll get to Feser's arguments against nominalism, hopefully tonight. But you show me how hypocritical both you and Feser are. If Feser has rejected Plato -- and I believe he has -- why should I have to answer those claims against nominalism which he already rejects? I shouldn't have to at all. But I will. And when I do you'll likely say, "You're wasting my time because I don't believe that either."

BenYachov said...

Djindra,

Don't bother answering me I will ignore your critique & all your work will be for nothing.

I caught you in a lie. You keep asking questions of Feser as if he was a Platonist when if you really read the book you would know he was an Aristotelian. Heck it's on the book jacket! You don't even have to read the book to know this & yet you missed it.

Now you are backpedaling & want to pretend Feser is really a Platonist(because you don't have a clue how to polemic Aristotle. You have been reading Plato) and make some lame ass argument on how Feser can't be a realist without being a Platonist.

You lose!

BenYachov said...

>If Feser has rejected Plato -- and I believe he has...

Then why ask "If a form for "triangle" is eternal, is the form for "computer" eternal?" as if these where Platonic forms that existed somewhere other than the objects they instantiate?

Answer you lied to me & did not read the book or you are a hypocrite when you claim you understood it while laughably accusing me of not.

Loser!

BenYachov said...

Some specifics:

>I'll get to Feser's arguments against nominalism, hopefully tonight.

I will ignore it since it is clear you have neither the intelligence, competence or maturity to write anything meaningful. That would be like Dawkins wasting his time arguing with the YEC with the 6th grader's understanding of biology.

Trying to imply Feser was willfully concealing that William of Ockham was a scholastic that came after Aquinas in order to deceive his readership when he explicitly gives that information in the book is looney. Making that bizarre conspiratorial charge even after not having read the book displays a paranoid mindset worthy of the fever swamps of WorldNetDaily and their birther obsession.

>But you show me how hypocritical both you and Feser are.

Says the tin foil hatter hypocrite who judges books before reading them.

>If Feser has rejected Plato -- and I believe he has --

You only know that because I pointed it out to you. Otherwise why would you waste time asking mocking questions about Forms that reflect Plato's view?

Besides he doesn't completely reject Plato in Forms since like any good Thomist he believes the Human Soul is a Form.

But you know that if you really read the book instead of lying about reading(at best skimming it).

>why should I have to answer those claims against nominalism which he already rejects?

Here you are assuming he holds to Strong Realism of the Plato variety & not the Moderate Realism of Aristotle.

Feser is a Thomist Jerkoff not an Augustinian!

>I shouldn't have to at all. But I will. And when I do you'll likely say, "You're wasting my time because I don't believe that either."

Well you are wasting my time and yours. Time you could have used to actually learn something. Instead because of your obsession with politics you think retoric is a substitute for actual knowledge and learning. Clearly that is not the case.

Epic fail!

djindra said...

BenYachov,

I've got time for the first three of nine:

1) Of course all triangular things could go out of existence. Later a triangular thing could come back into existence. But what of it? This possible phasing in and out of existence of triangularly shaped particulars has nothing to do with our keeping or losing our abstract concept of triangularity and vice versa. IOW, a triangularly shaped tree is not the same as "triangularity." So there is no reason a physical object should have any effect whatsoever on holding a concept in one's head. Having that concept doesn't "allow" a triangularly shaped object to suddenly appear and losing the concept doesn't prevent the object from appearing. Our concepts are completely irrelevant. We are not gods and our concepts are not divine. There is no "ontological" connection between objects and concepts except as patterns of brain cells. So there is no problem here at all. If life died tomorrow "trangularity" (the concept) would die with us. The only way the concept could go on is if other life in the universe also has a concept of "triangularity." So I completely deny "triangularity" is separate from our brains. Only things that are shaped like triangles are separate from our brains. In fact, this obvious separation is evidence that realism is superfluous. The world doesn't care what we think. It doesn't need these abstracts to form likenesses in whatever shape it happens to do.

2) The only "necessary" facts about geometry are those that conform to the way our universe is constructed. If these "facts" did not roughly conform to the shape of the universe -- or our perspective on that shape -- they would be neither necessary nor "facts." No real object has perfect geometry. But this simply means our universe is not perfect. We can invent perfection in our brains. As in (1) above, this invention is irrelevant when it comes to real existence. If we all died tomorrow so would Euclid's geometry.

3) Math is the same as (2) above. Math is deeply rooted in the way our universe behaves -- or we think it behaves. An equation like 2+2=4 is not a "necessary" truth. It's only unalterable because that's how we see the universe. We put two apples into a bucket. We throw in two more. And when we remove all the apples we find there are four. That's the foundation of math. It depends on this physical truth. If it did not, it would not be true. Infinity cannot even be imagined. The greatest number cannot be imagined. And whatever we imagine is strictly in our brains. It has no existence outside our brains. So it is in fact identified with the mental.

BenYachov said...

djindra,

Merely stating without argument that you believe the opposite of what Feser has already rationally argued is not rebuttal it's merely further proof of your lies and incompetence.

You lied djindra you said you understood the book and that I did not!" Yet clearly you attributed to Feser a Platonic belief in forms and a strong realism he rejects.

Now you want to backpedal & pretend you did not do this. Just like with Searle on your own Blog when the rabble called you out on it.

If you read the book you would know the only way Feser even comes close to Platonism is via his Thomism that some forms may exist without matter to instantiate them(such as Angels or the soul). But you haven't read the book.

That is clear.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

Feser made no more argumentation for his so-called "problems" with nominalism than I did against realism. (Besides, I'm not close to being finished.) You'll have to make those arguments yourself if you want to make an impact.

Your accusation that I didn't understand Feser's "real" position is laughable. I'm not simply countering what he may believe. I'm countering realism whether platonic or moderate or anything else.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

"Then why ask 'If a form for "triangle" is eternal, is the form for "computer" eternal?" as if these where Platonic forms that existed somewhere other than the objects they instantiate?' "

-- because I'm arguing against realism in any form and because, as you admit, "some forms may exist without matter to instantiate them(such as Angels or the soul)." So ultimately Feser does believe matter is not required.

BenYachov said...

I can't let this one go

>An equation like 2+2=4 is not a "necessary" truth.

That is neither logical nor rational.

This is objectively true even if there was only one proton and one electron in the whole universe.

Since it is intrinsically impossible for 2+2 to equal anything other then 4. As Feser will say if you bothered to read the whole book even if you redefine the Token numeral "5" to mean four objects you still don't alter the necessary fact 2+2=4 just because you made the symbol "5" now mean four objects.

If this is what you really believe then you hold a mindless dogma not a rational belief. You are what philosopher David Stove(an Athest BTW) calls an irrationalist.

What you have said here amounts to a denial of the law of non-contradiction thus you have not only no rational basis to defend anything you believe but no real basis to either question or deny what I believe.

Of course you still can't seem to understand Feser is an Aristotelian not a Platonist.

BenYachov said...

>Feser made no more argumentation for his so-called "problems" with nominalism than I did against realism. (Besides, I'm not close to being finished.) You'll have to make those arguments yourself if you want to make an impact.

Nice troll move shifting the burden of proof because you really don't understand the philosophy involved largly because you don't want to understand.

I still caught you in a lie. You did not read the book. Feser is a moderate realist you attack him for holding strong realistic views which he not only rejects but refutes when he contrasts Plato with Aristotle.

You are a liar djindra! An irrationalist who denies fundamental logic and the law of non-contradiction and a general boob!

BenYachov said...

>-- because I'm arguing against realism in any form

Rather you are ignorant that there are gradations even thought Feser has said so repeatedly in the very book you claim to have read but lied about doing so.

>and because, as you admit, "some forms may exist without matter to instantiate them(such as Angels or the soul)."

You only know that because I told you. If you read the book you would know but you lied. You didn't read the book. It's self evident to those of us who have.

>So ultimately Feser does believe matter is not required.

That does not logically follow at all. Only certain forms can by definition be substantial forms. Not all forms but then again you don't know substantial forms from Platonic from a hole in the head.

You didn't read the book. You lied to me.

BenYachov said...

So why are you here djindra? Spreading the Gospel of Atheism?

All you have done here is show that you are a shameless liar and an irrationalist.

BenYachov said...

>Your accusation that I didn't understand Feser's "real" position is laughable.

Says the idiot who himself is a joke.

>I'm not simply countering what he may believe.

But not what he has actually said.

No wonder you believe 2+2=4 isn't a necessary truth. You don't believe in truth at all.

>I'm countering realism whether platonic or moderate or anything else.

No it's clear you don't understand the topic at all and are trying to fake it.

EPIC FAIL!!!!

djindra said...

BenYachov,

"Since it is intrinsically impossible for 2+2 to equal anything other then 4."

Intrinsic, as in the fact that it's built into the fabric of the universe -- that's why you think it's necessary and that's why you can't think of it really being any other way. We go to magic shows to watch alternative "realities."

djindra said...

BenYachov,

"You only know that because I told you."

No, I know that by knowing he's (supposedly) a Thomist. Aquinas talks much about these angels and their composition. And I know Feser has to ultimately put those forms into the mind of his god. That god, according to his dogma, is not material.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

To prove I'm an irrationalist you're going to have prove grounding truths in empirical data is irrational. To do that you're going to have to come up with something more original and compelling than calling me a liar. I doubt this rational technique is within your abilities.

BenYachov said...

djindra,

You have been caught in a lie. Feser said repeatedly he there where different gradations of realism (as well as Nominalism and Conceptionalism).

You admitted in the past to have been reading a lot of Plato this year. It is empirically self evident from reading your critique you equated Platonic strong realism & it's realm of forms with Feser's Aristotelian belief.

You lied! You got caught! You didn't read the book.

End of story.

BenYachov said...

>We go to magic shows to watch alternative "realities."

Interesting how you equate what is by definition an illusion with alternate realities.

2+2=4 is it an illusion or a reality?

I believe it is a reality.

You don't.

Of course I still caught you in a lie.

BenYachov said...

>To prove I'm an irrationalist you're going to have prove grounding truths in empirical data is irrational.

Without universals there is no way to come up with any meaningful method of producing empirical data.

Science is based on practical realism otherwise it falls apart.

BTW I still caught you in a lie.

BenYachov said...

Here's some advice troll boy. Why don't you make up a lie & falsely accuse me of it?

Because at this point the discussion is over and we are back to name calling.

DNW said...

Djindra,

This conversation has become rather desultory and I'm not sure it's worthwhile to return to it after the holiday, but a quick review of the exchanges seems to justify a couple of observations in reply to your comments.


Blogger djindra said...

DNW,

You say,

"It is beyond doubt however that what they established was a constitutional polity based on natural law assumptions and principles of the kind Professor Fesser derives from the writings of Aristotle and Aquinas; though in the case of the Founders it may have been reformulated, or transmitted by and through, Cicero, Hooker or Locke."

But Feser rejects the idea that Locke is in agreement with Aquinas and Aristotle. In fact, he seems to think they are in radical disagreement:

"The modern philosophical tradition inaugurated by the likes of Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, and Hume is defined, more than anything else, by its rejection of these commitments in favor of a mechanistic and (usually) nominalistic conception of the natural world. ...From the classical natural law theorist's point of view, all such theories appear to be “natural law” theories in name only, insofar as nature per se really plays no normative role in them (and couldn't, given that the moderns' conception of nature as devoid of teleology or final causes effectively strips nature of any intrinsic value or purpose)." -- from Feser's "Classical Natural Law Theory, Property Rights, and Taxation"

So I'd like to see you try to make your case. I believe it will be an exceptionally weak case."




I'm not sure what case you wish to see made.

1. That the Founders were actually informed by traditional natural law concepts mediated by the three names I cited?


2, That in the case of one of them, Locke, (you concede the other two apparently though you could dispute Cicero as well as not being a classical Aristotelian) he held and passed on a concept based on traditional natural law notions?

Or 3, are you just looking for me to contradict Feser's general and parenthetically qualified characterization of how a classical natural law philosopher would react to Locke in particular?


Apparently your question regarding Locke is not as to whether the Founders understood Locke as a natural law leaning source of authority as we all learned in junior high school through college, but instead as to whether in Professor Feser's view a Thomas Aquinas doppleganger could still view Locke as an authentic natural law political philosopher despite Locke's sense-datum epistemology and redefinition of essences.


And the answer to that is that Locke would no doubt be viewed as a kind of heretic just as Feser says, though less egregious probably than Hobbes or Hume.

But see for yourself whether the "inconsistencies" (see the essay below) in Locke make it possible that what professor Feser says applies generally and with provisos about those very different four on the one hand, and what I said the Founders took from Locke on the other, could both be true.


On Locke
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke-political/





On Locke's essences 1/3rd way down. From a British website dedicated to the edification of the general public.
http://www.thegreatdebate.org.uk/LockeEpistem.html

djindra said...

BenYachov,

4) Propositions are things in our brains. To state otherwise is silly. As in (3) above, stating 2+2=4 as a proposition does not change anything. This is not a "necessary" truth. It's true only because it describes something about objects in our universe. It would not remain true if the universe disappeared tomorrow because the "law" would disappear with the material. It's nonsensical to say the "truth" of "Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March" would go on in such a situation. How would it go on? It would disappear with everything else.

Then Feser brings up an item with the profundity of a grade school level thinkery: "Even if neither the material world nor any human mind had ever existed in the first place, the proposition 'There is neither a material world nor any human mind' would have been true, in which case it would not be something material or mental." Yes, that paradox would disappear with Zeno's paradox mentioned on page 30 -- because the people who contemplate such nonsense would also disappear.

5) To accept science is to accept that the operations of the physical world can be explained by using laws of nature. It's an absolute rejection of mystical universals as Feser markets them.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

"BTW I still caught you in a lie."

BTW, you've made no impact whatsoever. The only thing you might catch is a cold.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

"Without universals there is no way to come up with any meaningful method of producing empirical data."

You're using the word "universals" in a different sense than science. Science is not looking for that mystical elixir called "form." Science is not looking for that perfect apple which must be perfect in all possible universes. Your universals are Gnu Age eternal, unchanging spirits. Science's universal laws are models of the world and as models they are free to alter somewhat with new findings. So because those models change, and are free to change, and are encouraged to change, they are nothing like the dogmatic universals marketed here.

BenYachov said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
djindra said...

BenYachov,

You're so busy making false assertions that you never actually get around to countering my arguments. You're all hot air.

BenYachov said...

BenYachov said...

>You're using the word "universals" in a different sense than science.

But Feser wrote a book on philosophy not science? So why would he use the scientific definition and not the philosophical?

Am I to fault Richard Dawkins for not conflating biology with physics?

Yet more evidence you are not rational.

So here is the summery of your failure.

1) You deny 2+2=4 is a necessary truth. Thus at the foundation you have no rational basis for any belief or disbelief or even skepticism

2) General reading comprehension problems. You confused Platonic strong realism which Feser both rejects and argues against with moderate realism.

3) You made weird charges that where factually incorrect and contradicted by the very text you claimed falsly to have read.

4) You confuse & conflate Philosophy with either politics or science.

5) You sole understanding of Form is Platonic but you haven't even begun to answer Aristotle.

6) You already made up your mind what the book was about before reading it.

7) Your method of argument is more John Cleeze than John Locke.

Yes it is! No it isn't! Yes it is! No it isn't! Yes it is! No it isn't! Yes it is! No it isn't! Yes it is! No it isn't! Yes it is! No it isn't! Yes it is! No it isn't! etc

You lied when you claimed you read the book and understood it & I caught you in the lie.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

"You deny 2+2=4 is a necessary truth. Thus at the foundation you have no rational basis for any belief or disbelief or even skepticism"

So back up that assertion. How are you going to make that case? Let's see if you have anything behind your words.

Michele Arpaia said...

Dr Feser, have you read "Natural Law Liberalism" by Christopher Wolfe?
In that book, he argues that it is possible to "reconcile" (I am not sure whether he means "fuse") the traditions of natural law (as represented by Thomas Aquinas) and of liberalism if understood properly.
Personally, I am all for classical liberalism when it a) attacks socialism, b) defends free market. Other than that, I would never let them build their ideal society for reason that I think you have argued brilliantly in different pieces (especially regarding Libertarianism).
Thank you.

Westcountryman said...

I know this is a old post, but perhaps, Professor Feser, you may still see it and answer it. When it comes to economics I find it hard for a traditional Christian and what you call a realist conservative to stray too far from Catholic Social Teaching and the Chesterbelloc doctrine of distributism. I don't of course mean one must subscribe to everything Chesterton or Belloc said on economic, society and politics, but the general gist of it seems unquestionably correct. Unfortunately modern politics has a very two-dimensional view of economic where one must be a corporate-capitalist or some kind of socialist, this is nonsense.

I'm just wondering where you stand on economics and Catholic Social Teaching/Distributism Professor Feser.