UPDATE: The review has now been unlocked and can be read for free at the CRB website.
My review of Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress appears in the Summer 2018 issue of the Claremont Review of Books.
My review of Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress appears in the Summer 2018 issue of the Claremont Review of Books.
Links to other book reviews from CRB and elsewhere can be found at my main website.
Interesting, on a practical point about helping the poor, I think that today the emphasis of conservatism /Tradition should be lowering the barriers to the poor helping themselves e.g. lowering the cost of higher educationReplyDelete
For the poor (I speak as one myself), higher education is mostly a way of getting trapped in insupportable debt, a burden that even bankruptcy cannot lift. What would help us a lot more is the credentialism set up by middle-class snobs – the insistence that nobody is worth hiring unless they had the time and money to spend on a B.A., whether the degree is relevant to the job or not. There are millions of jobs that don’t require a university degree, but those without a degree need not apply because they are Not Our Sort of People.Delete
I mean, of course, that what would help is eliminating credentialism. It would make a great difference if we could compete for jobs on our merits, and not be excluded because we did not have the money to go to the right sort of schools.Delete
So you propose to establish merit, how?Delete
Perhaps with work experience. Oh wait, that's a credential. Examination? Credential. Reputation? Credential.
I assure you that if you shift emphasis legally or by practice to these and any of them can be influenced by money (as work experience and reputation clearly can be) then the price of aquiring these things will also go up. People will pay and take debt for work experience. Indeed many interns effectively do now.
What would help us a lot more is the credentialism set up by middle-class snobs – the insistence that nobody is worth hiring unless they had the time and money to spend on a B.A., whether the degree is relevant to the job or not.Delete
Oh for cryin' out loud. If you want a career where a BA doesn't matter, go be a plumber, an electrician, a carpenter, a welder, a car mechanic, a crane operator, an airplane mechanic, a truck driver, a train conductor, ... There are millions of jobs in thousands of job categories that don't require a BA or higher. Then there are the millions more of self-made careers of businessmen and entrepreneurs who generated their own career by noticing something that people would pay for and doing it.
Roughly 30% of Americans get a four-year degree. A heck of a lot more than 30% of Americans work.
That said, there is a purpose to academic credentialism that apparently has escaped you. There are three completely distinct kinds of "hard work" that people undertake: physical work, intellectual work, and spiritual work. These were listed in the order of difficulty / distasteful. Although many people purport to hate physical labor, in actuality a higher proportion of people find intellectual labor more distasteful (on a day-to-day long term basis). Getting a BA or BS degree (and, obviously, all the more so for an advanced degree) is supposed to be proof positive that a person is capable of devoting themselves to intellectual labor. (I say "supposed to be" because, of course, at one time getting a BA meant a LOT of mental effort, but these days with the smorgasbord of university offerings, and party schools, etc, it means ever less and less). Hiring decisions may not be based on the absolute best information, but they have to start winnowing down the long list somehow, and if the job involves contant intellectual work, having a BA is one (small) indicator you might be able to handle it, even if the BA is not directly related. A lot of employers would like to train their own people anyway, but they want to know the hiree is trainable.
Or computer programmer/analyst. Which I have been for forty years now. I have the good fortune to possess a degree in Mathematics, but studied no computer science or programming on my way to that degree. Three years ago, one of the state of Michigan's best network managers retired after years of service who did not have a college degree. She was hired and started her career before the Human Resources industry discovered that a college degree is ALWAYS needed for that kind of work.Delete
College isn't for everyone - it wasn't for Winston Churchill - but there are lots of jobs out there that require a degree because HR "best practices" say they require it. Tom Simon is right.
Can this review be read without one being forced to subscribe to The Claremont Institute?ReplyDelete
Yes dear Stuter, well mostly yes. You can open the webpage in its source code view mode and then look for the main text among them many formatting commands. I copied to text editor and read it from there.Delete
Where do I find the formatting commands? I found part of the text by clicking "inspect element" and then "Resources" and then "Endarkenment Now", but it's practically unreadable and seems to be incomplete. Am I doing this right?Delete
What's the resource I could use to convince myself that final causes exist? I see why they make sense if we assume dualism or theism, but neothomists seem to treat them as something more fundamental, to the point where the existence of final causes is used to prove dualism/theism. Theis goes completely backward to my intuitions, and I tend to agree with the rest of A-T philosophy.ReplyDelete
I don't think it's a matter of proving that final causes exist. It seems to me that final causes is a postulate - one we all accept, every time we say something like 'the purpose of the heart is to pump blood.' Or have I misunderstood what is meant by the idea of 'final causes?'Delete
'Final causes', as Aristotelian understand them, or 'physical intentionality as modern philosophers call it, follows from there being irreducible dispositional properties. If properties like 'being flammable' or 'being solvent to salt' can't be reduced to non-modal alternatives you already have your instance of final causality/physical intentionality - properties that are inherently directed towards a certain goal or outcome.Delete
On the powers theory of causation final causality in the scholastic sense follows from powers having a specific terminus. There's plenty of atheist powers theorists who hope something like 'physical intentionality' can help provide a materialistic account of mental intentionality.
To paraphrase what Dr. Feser's said in some of his work, final causes are the only way to make sense of causality at all. If an electron consistently is attracted to a proton, that's because of something inherent to the electron. All the Aristotelian means by final causality is that kind of consistent causation intrinsic to something's nature.Delete
Oderberg and Feser discuss the scholastic interpretation of causality in opposition to a Human approach. The Humean believes cause and effect are loosely connected. That is, there is nothing in a match would directs it towards the outcome of flame. IOW, we cannot find in the actual state of the match anything like a potential (if you assume real things are those which are empirical) for flammability. Therefore, a match and its effect of flame are always constantly conjuncted together, there is no inherent metaphysical binding between the two. The Scholastic wants to know why such a constant conjunction exists in the first place, and they ultimately opt for final causality (which naturally flows from their division of act and potency), saying that there is a metaphysical tie between cause and effect and that such a relationship is one of objective tendency.Delete
I wonder if we should regard the principle of causality "Whatever is moved is moved by another" as an undeniable axiom rather than a contingent truth. For every effect, it is either uncaused or caused. If it is caused, it is either caused by some thing or caused by no thing.ReplyDelete
However, it seems to me that being caused by no thing would precisely be having no cause in which case it would not be the effect would lack a cause and would be uncaused. So being uncaused and coming about as the result of no thing and no cause are really synonmous and given the fact that nothing can not cause anything since it does not exist and that nothing is just the lack of causal properties, then the only coherent option would be every effect has a cause.
I have lots of trouble articulating this point so if anybody could help me phrase it better that would be helpful.
And then of course, we can argue that the cause has to be "another" by appealing to the fact that the moved is in potency and the mover is in act.
A denial of the Principle of Causality is typically formulated as something having no cause or occuring for no reason, rather than nothing causing something (nothing being understood as some exotic thing that can somehow cause things), so the argument you gave for the axiomatic status of PC isn't really gonna work if the formulation is simply that things happen for no reason, rather than out of nothing.Delete
@JoeD nothing causing an effect is the same as saying the effect was caused by **no thing** and no cause meaning the effect was uncaused.Delete
So those two are equivalent.
Remember that "nothing" is not a state; it is "no thing" or the lack of any thing including a cause.
I agree that, all things being equal, the vast increases in material well being we have seen over the past couple centuries are great news. The problem, as I see it, with these vast increases in material well being is that they have been accompanied by an overwhelming spiritual and arguably cultural decline. Is it worth it, especially if this leads to a vast increase in the number of people being lost eternally to God? Honestly, I really fear for my children's souls in this society.ReplyDelete
I’m not sure how being an illiterate peasant who’s constantly in fear of famine and starvation is good for spirituality and culture.Delete
It certainly is true that a lower percentage of people in previously predominantly Christian areas now believe in Christ for salvation though. But I’m not sure if material development has led to that.
I would say that an intimate connection with the natural world, plus the continual reminders of transience and mortality that come with it, are helpful for a developed spiritual sense. But I also don't think that God would discriminate against people born into a spiritually confused time. Even with the invincible ignorance so prevalent in modern times, anyone who really desires grace may achieve it—even if they don't really know what that entails, and even if some (though certainly not most) of the outward signs of worldliness may persist.Delete
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Matjaž Horvat - indeed! One might almost argue the reverse - that the loss of attention to God led to greater attention to developing material wealth.Delete
Folk culture is usually pretty great. In the 19th century you had all sorts of people going back to it for artistic inspiration: Robbie Burns, Romantics like Coleridge, the Grimms and other folklorists and so on.Delete
There is a strong correlation between material well being and secularization, both across time and across societies in the world today.
The problem with reversing causality is that it doesn't account for changes in the correlates of religiosity. For example, are we to say that lowered disgust sensitivity has led to paying more attention to material wealth.Delete
It's also weird causally. What exactly caused men to suddenly start paying less attention to God, for no apparent reason at all.
This came across as a rant against atheists and it had too many ad hominem against Pinkier. Saying "Pinker completely misunderstands..." might not reflect the reality as in philosophy people disagree a lot. Maybe next time try to review more the content of the book and point out which facts in the book are incorrect. Just because you disagree with Pinker it does not make him wrong.ReplyDelete
Also when you make claims that "religious wisdom of the ancients and medievals" supplemented Enlightenment you should give some examples of those. Otherwise people think you are only hand waving.
To say someone misunderstands is not necessarily an ad-hominem if the person demonstrates misunderstanding by straw-manning, misrepresenting or simply demonstrating an absence of knowledge on a topic.Delete
Although he could have added a lot more tbh, he did add a fair amount of refutation. It was bias in tone, but correct. Though this being said i am somewhat read on both pinker and medieval philosophy. Though not nearly as much to articulate a point with such confidence.
Hey Prof. Feser,ReplyDelete
I have noticed that you never defend the claim that motion or change need a cause to begin with. You do provide a reason to undercut and undermine Hume's objections and negative evidence against the principle but you never give any evidence for or in support of the Principle.
What you do offer is that *if* motion has a cause or an explanation then that cause or explanation can not be a potency and must be a being-in-act. But Lobkowicz denies that motion requires a cause to begin with including any causal account from potencies or beings-in-act or the state of "nothingness".
A lot of this follows from Aristotle's refutation of Parmenides. According to Parmenides, if something changes from one state to another, it must necessarily involve something (the second state) coming out of nothing—from which it follows that change is impossible. Aristotle's response to this is to agree that ex nihilo nihil fit, but to assert that change isn't really something coming out of nothing. Rather, there's something in the first state out of which the second state arises—something potential (in the first state) that became actual (in the second state). The idea that something actual has to actualize the potential follows from a couple things—1. if things could self-actualize, there would be no explanation as to why things actualized at particular times (something particularly paradoxical if the universe were infinite), and 2. something potential doesn't really exist in the sense that something actual does, so without something actual to actualize it, it's still analogous to something coming out of nothing.Delete
Of course, you could deny that the universe is intelligible at all, or deny that ex nihilo nihil fit is true, but I think each premise is far more plausible than its denial.
You might want to try his book Five Proofs for the Existence of God.Delete
I think skeptics like Lobkowicz would say that it is not necessarily that "nothing" is causing the motion but they would deny that the motion has a cause to begin with.
Feser has defended that claim in several places. If you wanna see his main defenses for that, check the following books: Five Proofs for the Existence of God, or Scholastic Metaphysics.Delete
The claim that whatever changes needs a changer is a formulation of the principle of causality (PC). I believe Feser takes PC to be self-evident, which is why in earlier works he was mainly concerned with rebuting or undercutting objections against PC. So a first reason to accept PC would be its self-evidence or intuitive plausibility: no potency can simply become actual out of nothing, without any cause whatsoever. That would be worse than magic.
A second reason to accept PC, which Feser gives in FPEG and SM, is that it is well supported by experience. PC is the best explanation for why we generally find causes when we look for them, and why we don't see things or events being actualized out of nothing. If PC were false, it would seem miraculous that we never witness any objects becoming actual from nothing; any crazy events suddenly being actualized; and so on. PC seemingly holds on an everyday basis and we have a stable reality, the simplest explanation for that is that something like PC is true.
A third reason Feser gives for accepting PC is that it follows from PSR, and Feser argues denial of PSR is self-refuting, since if contingent things or events could occur with no explanation whatsoever then any or all of our perceptions and thoughts could be occurring without any appropriate causes or explanations, including denial of PSR. Someone who accepts PSR won't have to worry about that, but someone who rejects PSR will be under the threat of some very serious skepticism.
Feser also endorses Michael Della Rocca's argument for PSR, and argues that if someone believes all our explanations (say, scientific explanation) terminate in a brute fact then they are no real explanations.
So Feser has actually given numerous arguments for PC and PSR. If you wanna read them, get the aforementioned books.
@Miguel, I do have all of Feser's books. And I am familiar with those arguments. I see no reason to make the PC reliant on an absurdly strong claim as the PSR so I try to avoid that route since the PSR is really controversial so in case, it gets shut down, that is one argument rather than both.Delete
The problem with using empirical knowledge to justify a premise is that it is no longer a metaphysical axiom but rather a generalization from instances of change.
I will go Through SM again I guess.
I don't see any issue with PSR, especially as in a formulation that seeks explanations for contingent facts. The big objection against PSR is the classical modal collapse one, but I think Pruss has aptly shown that the objection is largely overhyped. I don't find it problematic at all, provided we either don't take explanations to necessitate explananda or don't rule out self-explanatory contingent facts like free actions (I prefer the first route).
And that doesn't change the fact that there are strong positive arguments for PSR.
That being said, one can adapt some PSR arguments for PC, like the epistemological one. (I believe Feser himself says that in Scholastic Metaphysics).
"It is no longer a metaphysical axiom but rather a generalization from instances of change" actually, the best explanation for the apparent validity of PC for everyday events is actually that PC holds with metaphysical necessity. Pruss discusses this in more depth in his book on PSR (the principle of sufficient reason: a reassessment). So there's no issue whatsoever with using empirical arguments of this sort. If an atheist thinks it possible for a potency to become actual from nothing, then how can he explain the fact that we never witness things being actualized from nothing out of nowhere? If PC is false, why do we never observe any clear apparent violations of PC? PC explains that and is also inductively supported by all cases of contingent things having causes.
Feser does give reasons to accept PC: 1) self-evidence; 2) empirical arguments; 3) support from PSR (for which he argues at length; and if you prefer you can adapt some arguments for PSR into direct arguments for PC, such as the skeptical threat).
Mohamed Abostate - maybe I misunderstand the Principle of Sufficient Reason - but it just seems to me a necessity of any sort of thinking about the meaning of things. It seems to me we all assume that things don't 'just exist' - with no reason. Isn't that what the PSR means?Delete
I could not read the articles. But at any rate I think Allan Bloom has the nicest evaluation of the Enlightenment that I have seen.ReplyDelete
I'm more or less in agreement with the critique of Pinker. However, this seems to repeat a certain mythology common in some Aristotelian circles about the rise of modern science, in which an instrumentalist view is taken of the sciences. The sciences might be useful, or else they might tell us what things are made out of, but they don't tell us what things are--essence remains within the domain of metaphysics.ReplyDelete
But this doesn't seem to account for the magnificent success of the empirical sciences, not only in technological achievement, but in disclosing the different kinds of things there are in the natural world, differentiating them, and systematically explaining them. The pure sciences have been vastly more successful in gaining knowledge of what things are, at least at the subatomic, chemical, biological, and animal levels. Science has been in the business of explaining what things are and the intelligible relations that structure the natural world.
The more persuasive account, in my opinion, is that of Lonergan. The pure sciences are after imminent intelligibilities--formal, not material or efficient causes. When Galileo measured falling bodies, he was not after what these bodies were made of (material cause), nor who dropped them (efficient cause). He was after the intelligible proportion of the falling bodies. Likewise, what distinguishes the chemical elements is not so much what they are made out of, but intelligible proportions (e.g., atomic weight) and other chemical properties.
The crucial turn in early modern science was not, then a turn from formality and finality to material and efficient cause, or from wisdom to pragmatism. It was a turn from description (e.g., Aristotle's table of categories) to measurement and explanation. It was a turn from accounts which largely featured the relation of things to us (color, feel) to the relations between things themselves through measurement. In other words, it was a pivot from the sensilbe and imaginable to the non-pictorial and intelligible, and so it adopted the language of mathematics and abstract technical systems.
It isn't instrumentalism that the Aristotelian need presuppose, but rather epistemic structural realism, which is a kind of middle ground position between instrumentalism on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the sort of realism that supposes that the picture of the world physics gives us is exhaustive. Epistemic structural realism is not open to the objection you rightly raise. I develop this theme at length in my forthcoming book on Aristotelian philosophy of nature.
@Feser if the actualization of a potency happened inexplicably without a cause so neither act or nor potency caused it, how would proponents of the argument from motion argue against that?Delete
I'll be interested to read it. One of the things I've appreciated about your books is the positive engagement with the sciences. The only variants of structural realism I'm familiar with is that of either a Kantian flavor, or a reductionist variety (Ladyman, for instance).Delete
For me (speaking as someone who has moved from instrumentalism to realism, albeit critical realism, on the sciences), the realization that the pure sciences were after intelligible forms, and especially those concerning the relations of things to each other, rather than to our senses and our everyday concerns, was a significant insight. Firmly confining sensible form to the realm of description and giving free play to intelligible form in explanatory systems explains not only extraordinary success of the sciences in explaining what the natural world really is over "phenomenological" or "naive" approaches that privilege the sensible and imaginable over the abstract. (I.e., the idea that a chair is more real than an electron, because we can see and imagine the former, but not the latter.) In that sense, Galileo's insistence on measurement to get at things in themselves is a real advance, one which is harmonious with an Aristotelian-Thomistic account of cognition (sensible vs. intelligible form, causality as pertaining to intelligence, not sensation, and so on).
It seems to me that a more appropriate understanding of the word Enlightenment should actually focus on the nature of Light itself.ReplyDelete
And the nature of Enlightenment as it is understood and Realized in the traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism. Such a Realization is of course not even considered to be even possible in the Christian tradition!
That having been said why not check out the book titled What Is Enlightenment by John White.
This essay conflates so much. Probably because Feser is still high on the fumes of Austrian economics and its bogus ideological offshoots. Enlightenment is the progenitor of capitalism, apparently. But not socialism? Okay. Right. Ignore the fact that both rely on a utilitarian framework - and that the latter is just the former pushed to the limit.ReplyDelete
Capitalism too is the great leveller and bringer of equality. Maybe not in a material sense - although that remains to be seen; economic theory predicts that capitalism should tend toward an equilibrium of perfect equality (a zero profit economy) given endowments. But in the moral sense Marx had it right that capitalism bulldozes over restraining structures and replaces them with a culture based on rationalisation, commoditisation and profit. In it's modern form capitalism sells transgression for profit. It tells you to obey your passions so that it can enslave you and channel you into the Great Equaliser of the market.
Let's be real. The Enlightenment was a ghastly, horrible thing. It's son is socialism and its daughter is capitalism. Both aim at the same thing; utter equalisation of everyone and everything. A total destruction of hierarchy and order in favour of a technocratic slave state where people are either dominated through force or through their basest desires.
Stop pretending. Hayek and the gang were egalitarians, extreme democrats, rationalists and Enlightenment stooges.
Mr Feser I'm a graphic artist and would be happy to provide free cover art for your forthcoming book on the philosophy of nature. As a fan of your work, it's the least I could do.ReplyDelete
I can't find a working link to you old article "The Metaphysics of Conservatism" is there anyway to access it or have you covered same topic anywhere else I can read?
I can't find the review but its the same thing. Another book by Steven Pinker on explaining things unrelated to the limited field he got famous in.ReplyDelete
Jack of all trades and master of none or one.
Why do famous people presume they understand all the other famous issues??
Its truly in the world of ideas ALSO a celebrity society.
Pinker has very wrong ideas in other subjects I have noticed on youtube.
Its still left wing rants about the same old left wing rants.
He made his world better by immigrating to America from Canada and before that his family from Jewish who knows where .
Thats the solution for mankind. Move to a better mans home and get his stuff.
The world could move to North America.
It just would ruin North america more then it has already!!
Its like when English colonists moved to this wilderness. Well no it isn't.
They made a home and rest moved into the home which was better then their own home.
They insist not a reflection on them however. just needed opportunity.
I don't fully understand the point about final causes being necessary for rationality. Even if the mind (or reason) does not have a "final cause" of finding truth, and thus one cannot in an absolute sense denote "good" or "bad" reasoning, it seems to me that the final-cause-denier can just say that we can say that we may decide to use the tool in order to try to find truth, and that different kinds of reasoning are useful or unuseful _for that end_; and that then "good" or "bad" could be appropriate shorthand for these concepts. In other words, we can supply the end and then various types of reasoning can still be categorized according to it. This seems to me a likely response. What would be the appropriate retort?ReplyDelete
Thank you for the post.
"it seems to me that the final-cause-denier can just say that we can say that we may decide to use the tool in order to try to find truth, and that different kinds of reasoning are useful or unuseful _for that end_;"Delete
I think that still, we need to be arbiters of how to distinguish between when we have "useful tools" and "unuseful tools", which presupposes the display of final causality of our intellects, and that truth is at the end of our intellects after all.
If we didn't presuppose that, we could just as well consider whether our "tools" are useful or unuseful to find "Xlargworf" (made-up word). They may, or may not, but we would never know, and we would probably not care.
False beliefs can also be useful. Avoiding putting your hands in fire because you believe it will give you leprosy will still bring about the outcome of avoiding getting burned, but it is a false belief.
Unless the difference between a useful true belief and a useful false belief is something the intellect can distinguish, then we are stuck even figuring out what is itself useful, let alone what is good.
we can say that we may decide to use the tool in order to try to find truth, and that different kinds of reasoning are useful or unuseful _for that end_;ReplyDelete
Unless truth is ontologically different from error, there is no reason why "useful" could not be found in error just as much of the time as it is found in truth. So we would have no reason - on strictly "useful" grounds - to prefer truth to error. But in fact we both DO prefer truth to error, and also we hold that truth is more useful than error. This implies that our intellectual inclination is not "to the useful" but "to the true" as such. Which is simply to say that there is a final cause that moves the intellect: to know.
Effectively, it is impossible for a person to simply "supply the end" to be "I would like to hold error" and then pursue it because it is the end chosen. If we can supply the end at will and CALL it "the good", though, there is no reason we couldn't choose error. This shows that the end is not simply a matter of whatever you will.
"Didn’t God play a role? Yes, but not in the crude way New Atheists like Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris would suppose."ReplyDelete
But of course they don't suppose that 'God did it' in a crude way, or in any way. I take it that what Prof. Feser really means here is "not in the crude way New Atheists...would suppose that theists believe".
"The famines and grinding poverty that have occurred in modern times are mostly the results of idiotic socialist economic policy, which we can easily avoid if we want to."ReplyDelete
Are we defining modern times as post WW 2? If so, I guess this statement is technically true.
But if we're talking about the last 20-30 years, it's transparently false.
Most famines post-Mao and Stalin are caused by war, drought, and/or government corruption.
Droughts happen all the time. Northern and central Europe are going through a drought right now. Australia has droughts that persist for years. Many other places have droughts and manage them reasonably well. Countries that get destroyed by drought are generally ones that implement poor policies to address it. Or don't have the infrastructure to address it due to poor policies in the past.Delete
Wars are also caused by terrible economic policies.
I'll grant corruption though.
I obviously wasn't arguing that a drought is, all by itself, a necessary and sufficient condition for a famine. I was saying that most famines in the last 30 years are not caused by socialist policies.Delete
According to this list of famines, there have been 12 famines since 1980. Only 1 of the 12 happened in socialist countries. The other 11 were caused by war, corruption, and drought. QED.
I personally think that the “Enlightenment” (in terms of material advancement) was not a result of a change in philosophy but a result of newly available technologies developed by Medieval men. It’s kind of hard to experimentally verify Newtonian mechanics without an accurate clock and other measuring devices and control parameters that require technological precision. I think the increase in technology created a boon for science which generated an increased interest in science. That increase in interest in science led to a decrease in interest in philosophy (a man only has so much time). The decreased interest in philosophy led to philosophical sloppiness. The Black Plague didn’t help either, of course, as it wiped out a lot of the philosophically astute clergymen which led to the selection of weaker clergymen in the Church and corruption that ensued. But I would say that the rejection of Aristotelian metaphysics slowed scientific progress in many ways. The Quantum Revolution would not have been resisted like it had if scientists did not have a mechanistic metaphysics. Even the study of electromagnetism suffered because of this false metaphysics. Hopefully the science community will come around eventually, but it will probably take a couple hundred years!ReplyDelete
Great article. This was my favorite quote, which highlights the importance of having a classical theistic conception of God:ReplyDelete
Like the New Atheists, Pinker completely misunderstands the nature of the reasoning that traditional philosophical theology uses to establish the existence of God. He essentially conceives of the deity as a crude “God of the Gaps”—an eccentric cause alongside the others within the universe, posited to account for some specific unusual phenomenon, but who may be dispensed with once a physical cause can be identified. This is like taking the claim that a novel must have an author to mean that there is a certain unusual character alongside the other characters within the story, who does the sorts of things the author is said to do—and then, when a close reading of the novel reveals no such character, taking this as evidence that the author doesn’t exist.