My review of Rémi Brague’s new book Curing Mad Truths: Medieval Wisdom for the Modern Age appears at Catholic Herald.
Links to other book reviews can be found at my main website.
"One of the best contemporary writers on philosophy" National Review
"A terrific writer" Damian Thompson, Daily Telegraph
"Feser... has the rare and enviable gift of making philosophical argument compulsively readable" Sir Anthony Kenny, Times Literary Supplement
Selected for the First Things list of the 50 Best Blogs of 2010 (November 19, 2010)
This really makes my mouth waterReplyDelete
I appreciate medieval people in terms of ethics and philosophy.This appreciation actually began even in high school when I was walking around with Dante. That is not exactly the Middle Ages but still. Then later I began to see in medieval thought a lot of greatness. The only think that makes medieval though a problem is the axioms--but the logic is almost always rigorous. Later on periods have the exact opposite problem. The axioms sound good but the logic is most often circular.ReplyDelete
Yes you´re right, and it´s the reason why so many people who SHOULD know better claimed, that Aristotel´s or Thomas´ metaphysics are debunked by modern science. Sure, their examples or analogies are based on outdated science often enough. Doesn´t change the fact that you only have to change some of the analogies but NONE of the metaphysics to show that it still applies, including in an age of modern science. It is no surprise that it is often said that modern academic philosophy is in a paltry state.Delete
Before reading the review, I really thought this might be about medicine in some way. Not a good cover.ReplyDelete
I am interested and might buy it
OP quoting the authorReplyDelete
“But without God, the belief that man is destined to advance, morally or otherwise, is groundless.”
Grounds that man has, in fact, advanced and continues to advance, are exemplified by the abolition of slavery, the advancement of equality of rights under the law, the extension of life expectancy, the eradication of diseases, and the explosive advance of science and technology. Increasingly, the advances of man are absent even a pretense of reliance on god.
“Modern Europeans and Americans are constantly confessing guilt – especially that of their ancestors – and seeking mercy and forgiveness. Yet they deny the divine judge who alone can give them absolution.”
We moderns are looking for solutions, not absolution. I don’t need to be forgiven, but to solve a problem it is helpful admit it is a problem.
“And that is what modernity’s keeping of some Christian themes while jettisoning others has involved.”
Indeed, there is no need for god to form an agreed set of values. The source of our common values is our own innate evolved sensibilities, so we pull out from whatever source whatever matches our sensibilities and jettison the rest, which is a very good thing because the major holy books contain a great deal of ignorance and debauchery that ought to be jettisoned.
“The modern project has been precisely to reject such an external standard and make the recreation of man a kind of free-ranging experiment that has no justification or criterion of success outside of man himself. The trouble is that this gives the project no objective foundation or content at all. Unsurprisingly, human existence comes to seem pointless.”
Indeed, human kind is experimenting based on our own innate evolved sensibilities. There are no absolute moral propositions yet identified, and there is no ultimate point to human existence.
“Next, Brague identifies what he takes to be the Achilles heel of today’s atheism.”
That seems unlikely.
“we needn’t bother with questions about why things work or what purpose they serve.”
Science is continually questioning why things work, which is what theoretical physics is all about, as are the other research sciences.
The teleological question was answered long ago, there are no ultimate purposes served, material simply exists and does what it does.
“But this purely pragmatic focus leaves unanswered, and unanswerable, the question of why we should value even this atheistic sort of science and politics.”
Because it is in our evolved nature. We are physiologically beings that seek out patterns and sources of those patterns.
“while modern man seeks to maximise his control over his circumstances so as to improve them, his own existence and nature is something that lies outside his control. He does not and cannot create himself. This is unendurable unless we see ourselves as created by a cause which is perfectly good and made us to be good.”
Unendurable? Why? I endure this quite easily. It just doesn’t bother me, why should it?
“What morality requires is the notion of virtue, which concerns the realisation of an end that our nature sets for us as a matter of objective fact.”
Morality requires no such thing. Our common morality is the intersection or our individual moralities, which are the innate evolved sensibilities of a social animal.
Indeed, there is no need for god to form an agreed set of values. The source of our common values is our own innate evolved sensibilities, so we pull out from whatever source whatever matches our sensibilities and jettison the rest, which is a very good thing because the major holy books contain a great deal of ignorance and debauchery that ought to be jettisoned.Delete
Grounds that man has, in fact, advanced and continues to advance, are exemplified by the abolition of slavery, the advancement of equality of rights under the law
These two statements are contradictory. If man is "making moral progress," then he is not deciding what those moral values are. Advancing in morality implies a preprogrammed template one is advancing towards, which means what we "pick and choose" and "agreed upon values by evolved sensibilities" play no part at all.
Freeman Dyson pointed this out in a debate with Richard Dawkins. Dyson remarked that because we would be soon able to reprogram our genes to any arbitrary design, evolutionary biology has no more relevance as a future source of knowledge. Dawkins has no rejoinder.
Please don't feed the troll. He's already made it clear he's just as ready to drag down the combox here again with his logorrheic nonsense as he ever was.Delete
@Anonymous I'm willing to give Starly the benefit of the doubt and assume he's a Humean.Delete
We can't say he's trolling because nothing he said so far was more stupid than anything Hume said.
"Advancing in morality implies a preprogrammed template one is advancing towards".
That would be one possibility, but not the only one.
Advances can be judged retrospectively relative to our present relativistic standards.
Future trends can also be judged compared to our present standards absent any absolute template.
If we agree, for example, that extending the average life expectancy is good then we can advance toward that good absent any external template for good, and absent any theistic belief.
There are those who think modernity has brought negative progress in morality, say in the areas of sexual behavior and family cohesion. Perhaps, that is a matter of individual and shared sensibilities, no need for a template in that case either.
I like how you just ignored Freeman Dyson's devastating putdown of evolution. Hear no evil see no evil. Isn't that right? Refuse to peep at reality and reality itself changes just like the Copenhagen interpretation says. :D
That would be one possibility, but not the only one.
Advanceing requires BY DEFINITION an end goal. Learn how to use a dictionary.
Merriam-Webster: to move forward (forward = direction)
Wiktionary: To move forwards; to approach. Definition of approach: to approximate.
An approximation to pi is a sequence that has pi as a limit. A sequence with no limit cannot have any approximation and cannot advance.
SP is literally banned here. You're being extremely disrespectful to Ed and the resy of us by feeding him. Seriously, the compulsive troll feeders as almost as bad as the trolls. Grow up guys.Delete
Romanjoe, what I think you meant is, SP go away!Delete
I don't know if he's a troll. Maybe the ambiguity of his trollness is part of his trolling.Delete
Nothing Starly wrote is more stupid than Hume, so if Hume isn't a troll, then neither is Starly.Delete
And the fact that he stubbornly clings to his own judgment is not sufficient to prove his guilt. It usually requires a lot more than argumentation to truly change someone's mind. And even when you do argue them into admitying you were right...the internal mental
In short, if none of you are going to be forgiving toward Starly, then perhaps the intended audience of this blog is very different.
ErotemeObelus: ‘Starly’ has a long, long history of being a troll and is well known as such. Forgiving does not require Dr. Feser (or us) to allow him to continue his activities here.Delete
@TomObelus several times I've been accused of "being dishonest" and "not being a sincere seeker" when I was asking questions and failed to be persuaded.Delete
Reject him and he'll just say to himself, "wow, Christians are judgmental and accuse me of being intellectually dishonest. And why? Because I really don't want to believe what I do but otherwise I am compelled to."
Consoling the doubtful is a work of mercy. Maybe they don't deserve it, but that's the point.
Whether he is a troll in the sense of not being serious doesn't seem that important. He's astoundingly obtuse, dishonest, sometimes nasty, abd prolific. He has a long history of the same behavior here and elsewhere. There is no meaningful interaction with him. It wouldn't be so bad if he was restrained in the amount and length of his posts, but if you feed him he will clog up the combox. Feser told him to get lost previously. If you want comboxes full of his nonsense, before Feser is forced to put comment moderation on again, then feed him. But it doesn't seem that respectful to me.Delete
When has SP ever seemed doubtful? Part of the problem is that he never even interacts properly with his interlocutors, let alone seems genuinely interested in the faults of his position. He just sticks arrogantly to his own position z with no real hint he has considered or learnt about the positions he is arguing against. He has still the laughingly botched understanding of A-T philosophy that did when he first began to haunt this place a few years ago, and he shows no sign of caring about that or trying to remedy it.Delete
And to repeat: he is actually banned from here.
When has SP ever seemed doubtful?Delete
From consoling the doubtful.
To counsel the doubtful requires a tremendous amount of patience. If people are doubtful by nature, they may relapse, over and over—much to their own frustration and that of anyone trying to guide them. If we are in a position to do the counseling, we really need to thank God for giving us a strong faith. Constant wavering can be a real cross.
We do not need a degree in theology or catechetics to counsel the doubtful. We all know that some of the most convincing people of faith have been the simplest individuals we’ve known. They just love God and their neighbor and live straight from the heart. Counseling the doubtful means not turning away from people’s questions, misgivings, or fears. It means being a solid rock in the midst of the storms of others’ intellects, wills, and emotions that cause them to be “blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6). It means painstakingly researching what we ourselves are unable to answer, in order to explicate and reassure, or simply to find and recommend the very best resources.
Counseling the doubtful can also mean, perhaps, enduring slings and arrows against us, God, and the Church by those doubters who are wounded and lashing out. (Whoops! Now we’re in the territory of another spiritual work of mercy: “bearing wrongs patiently.”) Instead of having a kneejerk reaction of taking offense and answering in kind, how about being kind? You obviously have a treasure that these people do not. They want what you have. Rebuffing them is propelling them further from what they want and need. Sometimes we also think that we need to “defend” God from or against those who are doubtful. As EWTN’s Doug Barry says “God is a big boy.” God doesn’t need us to defend him, but these hurting doubters do need our forbearance. People should be able to say of us, “If your God is anything like you, I want to know him.”
People who are doubtful by nature do exactly what Sr. Burns describes and what Starly does: "they relapse, over and over—much to their own frustration and that of anyone trying to guide them."
That doesn't sound like SP at all. He has no doubts nor frustrations at his lapses. Part of the problem is his lack of doubts, hesitation, and introspection, and his singular belief that he is absolutely right so he never has to really pay attention to those he's arguing again.Delete
Advanceing requires BY DEFINITION an end goal. Learn how to use a dictionary."
I suggest you use Oxford and read all the definitions.
As stated previously, an advance can be toward a pre-planned goal. Advance can also be judged retrospectively.
Further, setting a goal can be done collectively absent a source of absolute knowledge that the goal being set is somehow the very best possible goal.
Absolute advance is not possible without an absolute source of absolute knowledge, yes, so if by "real" advance you mean "known to an absolute certainty to be toward the very best goal" then you can define your terms in that way if you wish, but to no practical benefit.
If you do not consider extending the average life expectancy to be an advance, that is up to you, but most of the rest of us do and such advances in no way require a god to tell us they are good.
@RomanJoe May 5, 2019 at 4:19 PMDelete
Define "good." "
No definition of good that is known to be absolutely true has yet been published.
Good is a personal sensibility. Our common sense of good is the intersection of our individual sensibilities. We have a somewhat orderly society of laws and social norms because we each have very much the same physiology that determines our individual sensibilities such that the intersection of those sensibilities is generally large for most of us.
If that all sounds very untidy and bound to lead to a lot of chaos and conflict, well, just read the news every day to see if chaos and conflict is a reality of the human condition, and thus correlates with moral relativism being the case.
But, the subject of the OP is a book review. In that review it was asserted that modern man cannot arrive at an intelligible position by picking and choosing from Christianity, because that would break the intelligible system of Christian thought.
Moral relativism is intelligible and does not require the assertion of a supposedly omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent god which itself entails a number of unintelligible aspects.
Thus, in my view, moral relativism is an intelligible system of thought replacing the unintelligible Christian view of morality, in contrast to the assertion of the OP.
@Starly the obease bird pokémonDelete
Any reason you're:
1. Not responding to Freeman Dyson
2. Not answering my question about your survey of Feser's literature
@ErotemeObelus May 7, 2019, 8:09 AMDelete
“Any reason you're:
1. Not responding to Freeman Dyson
2. Not answering my question about your survey of Feser's literature”
1.Freeman Dyson’s views on biological evolution are off topic.
2.”Go read the literature” is not the presentation of an on topic argument.
@Starly if you're not going to read whether Feser addressed whether "pure existence" is a coherent concept then you're not interested in understanding. You're just here to be babysat like a big fat baby. And nobody will.Delete
And "pure leftness itself" does exist. It's called chirality.
“Brague’s final chapter notes the connection between civilisation and the willingness to address each other as partners to a conversation, rather than as “barbarians” or babblers whose speech we cannot make sense of.”
Ok, that seems agreeable. I suggest we start by, provisionally at least, mutually accepting the axioms of logic, mathematics, grammatical form, and sound argumentation. We can then at least have some common language of constructive and civil conversation between those of widely differing views.
“The trouble with modern man is that he has treated his own Christian forebears as barbarians from whom he does not wish to learn. Since his own defining ideals were taken from those forebears and then distorted,”
Those 2 sentences are mutually contradictory. If modern man has taken from Christian forbearers then he has learned from them. That is what learning is, a taking from.
Learning from does not mean taking all, only taking that which is valuable and withstands examination and confirmation.
“ he has thereby made even himself unintelligible.”
On the contrary, it is the Christian who has unintelligible aspects to his thoughts and propositions. It is modern man who has made himself intelligible by rejecting the unintelligible aspects of Christianity.
"Those 2 sentences are mutually contradictory. If modern man has taken from Christian forbearers then he has learned from them. That is what learning is, a taking from.Delete
Learning from does not mean taking all, only taking that which is valuable and withstands examination and confirmation."
It is blatantly obvious what the author meant here. We can look for example at humanism which in the early 20th century began to adapt parasitically the christian values without the religious underground which provided rationalization for them. This leads to what we can see nowadays, those values which hold the society together fall apart, since there can´t be any rational ground for the values which originated in a judeo-christian context, beyond a mere feeling of right and wrong. So because people grew up with christian morality taught to them, while then beginning to reject them, they are in need for a new morality which they can rationalize. Your points about the examination and confirmation reflects á stuning naivety but mirrors exactly what is happening in todays society with its splintering in small groups without the overarching moral system. Western Europe is a great example for this.
"On the contrary, it is the Christian who has unintelligible aspects to his thoughts and propositions. It is modern man who has made himself intelligible by rejecting the unintelligible aspects of Christianity."
This is ironic, especially because Feser never gets tired of pointing out how intelligebility is a crucial part of classical theism. Offer some examples and I will tell you why you´re wrong.
@ Dominik KowalskiDelete
“intelligebility is a crucial part of classical theism. Offer some examples and I will tell you why you´re wrong.”
Ok, thanks for the offer of an educational opportunity.
First, the terms coherent, intelligible, and understandable are often used interchangeably. Feser has written on more nuanced uses of such terms to sharpen the specificity of their meaning, to which I say hear hear. It’s no good talking past each other due to sloppy definitions of words.
(I recall another post where Feser draws a distinction between being unintelligible versus not understandable, I think, sorry, I was not able to locate that post).
Also, would you say that terms such as pure act, being itself, pure existence, and existence itself are equivalent, or are there some differences between those terms in your view?
How about pure motion, bounce itself, pure length, and left itself? Are those coherent, intelligible, or understandable expressions of real existent stuff?
No, I think not. Motion is of a thing. Length is of a thing. Existence is of a thing. Being is of a thing. If one starts with absolutely nothing at all, then adds motion itself, that is just gibberish. Combining the words “motion” and “itself” results in an incoherent, or unintelligible, or non-understandable term.
The same is true of pure actuality, pure being, and existence itself. Those are just gibberish combinations of words.
Also, please provide your definition of omnipotence. The common theistic definitions I have seen thus far are either logically incoherent or so vague as to be pointless, but maybe you have a definition for omnipotence that is sound and meaningful.
Does god have both free will and omniscience? If you assert that combination of traits to god please explain to me how they can be reconciled.
The same is true of pure actuality, pure being, and existence itself. Those are just gibberish combinations of words.Delete
Anytime you use "basically" or "just" you're making a strawman.
Any combination of words is ‘just gibberish’ to someone who refuses to learn the language.Delete
"Also, would you say that terms such as pure act, being itself, pure existence, and existence itself are equivalent, or are there some differences between those terms in your view?"Delete
Ultimately of course they are describtions of the same being, since polytheism is impossible under this analysis. "Pure act" has to be a term on its own, the other three have a minor distinction between them. Let´s focus on the "pure act" first. It necessarily leads to attributes of eternal, imateriality and unchangeable. Also omnipotence, since there can only be one thing which is pure act and this is why every potency actualized on a different hierarchichal level, like me tiping on my laptop, has to exist in the pure actuality in an abstract or virtual form.
"Being itself", "Pure Existence" and "Existence itself" are rather equivalence in my opinion, though maybe some here would correct me on that one, I´m not doing this stuff here for too long. It describes the pure actual being as something necessary, since existence/ being itself, can´t fail to exist.
"How about pure motion, bounce itself, pure length, and left itself? Are those coherent, intelligible, or understandable expressions of real existent stuff?
No, I think not. Motion is of a thing. Length is of a thing. Existence is of a thing. Being is of a thing. If one starts with absolutely nothing at all, then adds motion itself, that is just gibberish. Combining the words “motion” and “itself” results in an incoherent, or unintelligible, or non-understandable term"
First I planned to answer paragraph for paragraph, but those two must be done together, since your answers to your rhetorical questions show where you left the road in a great way. Motion, bounce, length, left are concpets we created to describe the change in space of material objects. Since everything is within God, because he undrlies reality, these concepts of course also have to exist within him. That doesn´t require those concepts to be applicable to God himself. Why should it? This would presuppose God/ pure actuality to be material. However this can´t possibly be right, because matter is always subject to change, and be it just in terms of change in the place in space. However because they change, it has potentialities, for which reason they need ultimately a being of pure actuality with no potency to change in order to give the instrumental power. However you seem to regard something immaterial as nothing and not just no-thing, which is why you regard the concept of starting with the immaterial as incoherent, because it would be equivalent to ex nihilo. This however roots in misunderstanding what immateriality is supposed to mean and of a too narrow view of what „being“ means. There is no reason to limit it to the material world. Take the concept of information for example. Noone, including theologians, would say that creation within or from God is something coming out from nothing. But insisting on it would lead to concluding information to be nothing, because it isn´t material in nature.
„The same is true of pure actuality, pure being, and existence itself. Those are just gibberish combinations of words.“
As we could see in the last paragraph this is a result of limiting the concept of thing to the material world, as well as just making assertions. However you haven´t shown why „things“ have to be material. Ed has gone to great lengths to defend the concept of pure actuality as the underlying deature in a hierarchichal series. Pure Being and Existence itself are necessary concept which result from the being consisting of pure actuality. Noone here would say that we have therefor gotten to an exhaustive picture of God, however this is the best way for us to describe the underlying prnciple of nature, the only thing necessary for us contigent things to exist. The „gibbersih“ part comes in because you can´t grasp the concept. No wonder, because you start with assumptions like materialism while never having defended it in a proper way, so the concept of immaterial things are ecluded from the beginning. However this is intellectually dishonest. You have thrown the metaphysics out without ever having properly critiqued or engaged with it. Nothing is easier for people here than to show that the materialsim you start your arguments with, is an incoherent concept. However you never have shown any sign of being ready to engage with the arguments. Instead we have to here such nonsense, that „things have to be material“ or „It´s all just gibberish“. Boy, construe an argument and don´t just make assertions.
„Also, please provide your definition of omnipotence. The common theistic definitions I have seen thus far are either logically incoherent or so vague as to be pointless, but maybe you have a definition for omnipotence that is sound and meaningful.“
The ability of the being with of pure actuality to actualize every possible potential, as well as giving the minor beings on a higher hierarchichal levelt he ability to have causal power.
That wasn´t so hard. However I have no doubt that you won´t understand this, because you already aren´t able to understand the concept of pure actuality.
„Does god have both free will and omniscience? If you assert that combination of traits to god please explain to me how they can be reconciled.“
First start with omniscience. The unactualized actualizer necessarily is omniscient, because everything on a higher hierarchichal level than himself lives within him with all ist potencies in an abstract or virtual way. So because everything in this moment exists within him in the way it is actualized, God necessarily knows in which way they exist. However the same is true for all the potentialities of things which could be actualized in order to change them. As such God necessarily has to know not only what is right now, but what could be at any given time. Add to that the fact, that the unactualized actualizer has to be eternal, like we have already seen, because it is a necessary and not just contingent being. Because he is outside of time he also has to know what will be atualized at any given time.
Now the divine free will. Primarily I don´t see any reason why it shouldn´t. Judging by you setting this stage I think you want to get to a point where we reach a paradox, probably that God can´t have free will, if he already knows which potentialities he will actualize. Obviously this is a false equation. Free will doesn´t depend on not knowing the action that will take place, people here agree that God knows ho we will act, this is a logical conclusion, because God is outside of time, so concepts like past, present and future doesn´t apply to him. For divine free will, here is Ed:
And now at last, your selfconfidence in your views against those presented in hear are obviously misplaced. And don´t think we are the first ones to have that discussion or have have brought up some new aspects, this discussion we are having literally happened hundreds of times already on this blog. So how about you try to really understand what people here are arguing for, instead of spamming ridicolously long posts while never making a valid argument against the metaphysics presented in here? Based on the way you are arguing you shold start with defending materialism. People here like little more than pointing out the incoherence of this worldview, once a rigorous metaphysical analysis is applied to it.
Scanning down I see a long and thoughtful reply. I will do my best to respond in kind.
“pure actuality in an abstract or virtual form.”
Agreed, pure actuality, god, is an abstraction.
“But insisting on it would lead to concluding information to be nothing, because it isn´t material in nature”
Information does not exist independent of material. Information is the relationship between materials, say, in a crystal, the spatial relationships between the molecules. Absent the material, information does not exist.
“However you haven´t shown why „things“ have to be material.”
Else they are abstractions, which are not things, rather, processes of material, the brain.
“Pure Being and Existence itself are necessary concept which result from the being consisting of pure actuality”
Agreed, pure being and existence itself are concepts, they are abstractions.
“The „gibbersih“ part comes in because you can´t grasp the concept.”
The gibberish part comes in because god is a concept.
Abstractions do not have existent realizations, they are idealized logical constructions, processes, of the brain. Abstractions, concepts, do not exist outside of the brain, and exist in the brain only in the sense of an identifiable class of processes of material, the material of the brain.
“Boy, construe an argument and don´t just make assertions.”
A logical possibility does not necessitate a corresponding real existent possibility. A logical truth does not necessitate a corresponding real existent truth.
For example, we can model a physical process with equations. Mathematics is a form of logic. If we solve certain equations we might get 2 solutions. 1 solution is existentially valid and the other is not, so we discard the existentially invalid solution as unreal.
Both solutions are logically valid, but only one solution is existentially valid.
This failure to distinguish between a logical demonstration and a demonstration of real existence is one key error of A-T, and also of the modal ontological argument for god.
To see if our logical conclusion is existentially realizable we need some means of testing the answer. Fortunately, we have some available in the case of asserting an omnipotent, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, unchanging, pure actuality, simple, existence itself, outside of space, outside of time god.
Just for starters, allow me to ask you to consider that this pure actuality is asserted to somehow be, in some sense, pushing and acting and changing literally everything into existence continuously and at every moment, lest it all just blink out into absolutely nothing.
So, say, something fairly simple like an electron at location A is being continuously changed into existence, while space at location B is being continuously changed into existence.
Then, later, our electron is no longer at A, and is now at B. So, later, god is not pushing the electron into existence at A, he is doing something different now, he is pushing space into existence at A. And likewise at B, where now, at a later time, god is doing something different at B than he was previously, pushing out an electron instead of pushing out space.
Multiply this by perhaps 10^86 and we have a god that is continuously doing very different things at different places at different times.
A god that does vast numbers of different things, in vast numbers of different places, over vast expanses of time, acting upon a universe of material, yet is somehow timeless, dimensionless, an abstraction, and unchanging. Does that actually make sense to you?
“Omnipotence = The ability of the being with of pure actuality to actualize every possible potential,”
So, a pre-existing possibility is antecedent to god.
God may not, and cannot, and is lacking the power to define what is possible, rather, god must obey, and conform to, and be limited by a pre-existing specification of what is and is not possible.
So why do you call this limited being god?
“Free will doesn´t depend on not knowing the action that will take place”
Of course it does. If one knows for certain a particular thing will occur then there is no possibility any other thing can occur and anybody who thinks they are making a free choice about what will occur is delusional because it is already known what will occur ant that is therefore the only possibility for occurrence, completely eliminating any real freedom of choice.
That’s what we who hail from the Midwest call a snowjob. The modern term is word salad. No clear argument is presented as to how an omniscient being could in any sense be considered to have free will.
If god is really this timeless, changeless, all knowing being then it is impossible for him to make any free choices at all, god is a robot, obligated to only do what he already knows he will do, since his knowledge is perfect, he is barred from any possibility of changing his mind, or making a choice, since all his actions are already determined for all eternity by his perfect foreknowledge and his changelessness.
“So how about you try to really understand what people here are arguing for,”
I have tried to imagine a timeless being that acts over time, a non-spatial being that acts over space, but so far, that has been beyond my conceptual capacities.
I have tried to imagine pure existence, absent an existent thing, but what is existing in pure existence if no thing is existing? Sorry, I can’t make heads or tails of that either.
I have tried to conceive of a free willed being that is changeless and knows everything already, whose future actions are all pre-determined in an eternal now, but alas, again, I can make no sense of that.
I have also attempted to conceive of a being of unlimited power that is limited by antecedent possibilities, however, once again, I cannot wrap my brain around that either.
“Based on the way you are arguing you shold start with defending materialism.”
In the words of a great man, “It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things…”
It is evident to our senses. Things are evident to our senses. Material is evident to our senses.
The evidence for the material world is all around you. Is that all just a dream in your view?
Perhaps not, maybe you think the thing that has the biggest effect of all among all the effects we are so vividly aware of is something we cannot detect, somehow the most powerful cause is an inherently, even in principle, undetectable immeasurable unquantifiable incalculable cause that is no more than an abstraction, sorry, I can’t make sense of that either.
What is wrong with you?Delete
You just gave a slew of "I can't," "I think," blah blah blah without any substance. Who cares if you can't conceive of X? That just makes you a solipsist. As if we needed you to confess that to know!
Get out! Go away! Get lost!
@ErotemeObelus May 9, 2019 at 9:12 AMDelete
“What is wrong with you?”
A number of things of a personal nature, but thus far you have shown no errors in the specific arguments I have made.
“You just gave a slew of "I can't," "I think," blah blah blah without any substance. Who cares if you can't conceive of X? “
Very apparently you missed the question that was put to me above. What I can and cannot conceive of is directly relevant in the answers to that question.
“That just makes you a solipsist. As if we needed you to confess that to know!”
Do you suppose you have absolutely certain knowledge available to you through your senses? We accept the basic reliability of the human senses as an axiom based on a preponderance of apparent evidence, not an absolute certainty that such evidence is true.
This self awareness of what is accepted axiomatically is an example of how “modern man” (the term used by the OP presumably meaning atheist materialist) takes on an intelligible position absent a comprehensive embrace of Christian thought.
But maybe you can tell us in your own words why the atheist materialist position must necessarily be unintelligible, as asserted implicitly by the OP?
Also, how about sharing your own personal expression of what is existing in an asserted pure existence or existence itself if no thing is existing? How is that Thomistic assertion intelligible in the first place?
How does a timeless being act through time? How does a non spatial being act across space? How can those Thomistic assertions possibly be intelligible at all?
Doesn’t free will require the ability to make a choice, to change ones mind, to thus change in ones self, in a personal process of decision making over time? How can a being that already knows everything possibly decide anything, or change its mind, or have the possibility of choosing differently? In what sense can a changeless being freely change its own mind? How is the notion of a free willed god at all intelligible?
@ErotemeObelus May 5, 2019 at 11:40 AMReplyDelete
"Anytime you use "basically" or "just" you're making a strawman."
The same is true of pure actuality, pure being, and existence itself. Those are gibberish combinations of words.
Maybe you don't like the word "gibberish", since it can be taken as having a pejorative connotation. I am ok with using "incoherent" or "unintelligible" or "not understandable" or "incomprehensible" or some similar term, depending on the precise definition one chooses.
How is “pure existence” more intelligible or understandable, or meaningful than “pure motion” or “pure left”?
How could existence be the case independent of a thing that exists? How can one coherently speak of an existence in the absence of any existent thing? What is existing if there is no existent thing?
How could existence be the case independent of a thing that exists?Delete
Are you sure Dr. Feser didn't answer this in any of his books? You're not the first person to come up eith this argument. You're not even the first person in the last century to come up with this argument.
"You're not the first person to come up eith this argument."
Ok, I am sure you are correct about that, but can you tell me what is existing if pure existence is the case absent an existing thing?
The OP asserts that to be intelligible modern man would need to embrace the whole of Christian thought, no just pick and choose, since that would break a cohesive system of thought.
But how is "pure existence" intelligible in the first place?
Did you, or did you not, double-check Dr. Feser's books?
SP resolutely refuses to buy or read Feser's book. He doesn't rate them and thinks he doesn't need to read them to endlessly attack them.Delete
@Tom Simon May 5, 2019 at 5:29 PMReplyDelete
“Any combination of words is ‘just gibberish’ to someone who refuses to learn the language.”
That is a true statement. Why do you suppose your statement is somehow relevant to me in this context?
Here is a guy who has gone to the trouble of making a diagram of pure act as it relates to the cosmos
A Defense of Classical Theology (Part 2): God is not a god
Now, in fairness, we can’t even project the surface of the Earth onto a 2D map without distortion, so making a 2D diagram of pure act and the cosmos is bound to be highly schematic in nature.
So, he’s got terms like “Absolutely simple”, “Unconditioned reality”, “Immutable”, “Ultimate source of causal powers”, “Sustaining cause” attached to a sort of disc from which Man, gods (of the Pantheon), Material, Conditioned reality, Composite, Mutable and Cosmos are diagrammatically derived.
Very apparently, this all has great explanatory value in the view of this individual who uses the handle Mathoma.
So, Tom, what terms of language would you suggest I learn? I am quite articulate in the English language, which is the language being used on this thread, so I suppose you mean that there are some technical terms I have not yet come to understand.
Indeed, by all means, please do educate me, because I have been reading and listening to a variety of Thomist sources and none I have encountered thus far have explained the terms “pure act”, “existence itself”, and “pure being”, beyond the level of disjoint words crammed into incoherent terms, as near as I can fathom.
In the review of the book made by the OP the assertion is made that modern man, in rejecting major aspects of Christian reasoning, has made himself unintelligible. Implicit in that assertion is that modern man is atheistic (or at least non-Christian) man, and that Christian reasoning was or is intelligible, and that atheistic reasoning cannot be intelligible by any alternative means and thus must embrace the whole of Christian reasoning to be intelligible.
But which Christian reasoning? Prevailing Christian reasoning seems to reject the Thomist view as unintelligible, in favor of a personified notion of god, with atheists rejecting the Thomist view as unintelligible as well. You may fairly respond that argumentum ad populum is a logical fallacy. Fair enough. But the question remains.
In what sense is “pure existence” at all intelligible?
Hmmm, SP certainly is annoying. Did I in fact ban him some time back, as a couple of people have said? Sounds vaguely familiar, but it's the kind of thing I don't always recall. Anyone know when that would have been or what the post was?ReplyDelete
From what I remember, maybe over a year ago, after a very long, very repetitive series of posts of the same few basic objections. Presented in what comes over as a solipsistic, annoying and troll-like spirit.
He moved over to the Classical Theism Forum, this could have been the last theistic forum he hadn't already been banned from for the same kind of thing, was banned from there a couple of months later too.
Here is the link to the post where you officially banned him. It's from November of 2017: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2017/11/two-further-ideas-about-development-of.html
Here is what you said:
"Once again I've had to delete a bunch of off-topic logorrheic threadjacking crap.
Stardusty and Stardusty sock puppets and soundalikes, you are all hereby banned. Get lost. I will delete all future comments from you or from anyone who sounds like you.
Everyone else, stop responding to this crap. I will delete it and all replies to it. Just ignore it until I do so. It's probably too late to salvage older threads, but from here on out I will no longer tolerate it."
Coconuts, solipsistic is the description of SP's posts. It's why discussion with his so pointless.Delete
* perfect description.Delete
Stardusty is gone 🦀🦀🦀🦀🦀🦀Delete
Am I being annoying? For example, a central point in the book reviewed was the unintelligibly of modern man's views, as a result of an incomplete usage of Christian views.
I think my posts have been very specific to that subject here on this thread, and contain specific rational arguments absent ad hominems, coming from me at least.
If people of widely differing views can't find some common language of rational discourse I don't see how we can reasonably hope to discover flaws in our own thinking. Just reading and speaking with those who already agree seems unlikely to sharpen ones views on much of anything.
This comment has been removed by the author.Delete
Thanks Ed, just pre-ordered the book.ReplyDelete
Three cheers for Stardusty in his/her attempt to break through and even lampoon the humorless group-think that dominates this website.ReplyDelete
Ah, so you are saying SP is satire and even the gnus think so? Unfortunately, that is doubtful, as he had befouled a dozen blogs and forums with the same nonsense.Delete
What's the original French title?ReplyDelete
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