Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Social media’s fifth circle

Marshall McLuhan’s famous remark that “the medium is the message” was never more true than in the case of Twitter.  And the message is malign.  I would not go so far as to claim that the platform is a malum in se, but it is close.  The reason is not because of its political biases, though that hardly helps.  It’s because the medium of its nature tends positively to encourage activity contrary to what is good for us given our nature as rational social animals.

Here’s what happens.  You read or hear about something you disagree with.  You make a snap judgment, and send out a tweet about it.  Because it’s a snap judgment, there is a very strong chance of its being wrong or half-baked or otherwise defective.  Because you’ve got relatively few words to make your point, you’re likely to oversimplify things, and because you want it to get attention – why write it, otherwise? – you’re likely to make it snarky, or even insulting toward whoever it is you’re disagreeing with.

Dozens, even hundreds or thousands of people, respond to what you say very quickly – also with snap judgments of their own that are often defective in just the ways yours is likely to be.  If lots of them agree with you, you will tend to think you must have gotten things more or less right – especially given that they are likely to share whatever snarky and condescending attitude you evinced in your tweet.  The self-congratulatory echo chamber artificially inflates everyone’s confidence in their shared judgments.  On the other hand, if lots of people disagree with you, they are also likely to do so in a nasty and condescending way that will make you defensive and disinclined to consider that you might be wrong.  Either way, you are going to be hardened in your position, however ill-considered it actually is.

Moreover, since you soon find that you are playing to this mob, you are likely to tailor your thoughts to please, or at least not offend, whatever part of it is more or less friendly to you.  And you are likely to try to save face with the part of it that is hostile to you, which requires doubling down rather than backing down.  This dynamic plays out over and over again week after week, month after month, year after year.  The result is a dulling of critical faculties and human sympathy on the part of the individual, and militant, intolerant groupthink on the part of the masses of users. 

The point is not that snark or an aggressive tone are always and inherently wrong.  They are not.  But they should only ever be resorted to when necessary, only after reflection, and only ever as a supplement to a reasoned case that can stand on its own.  They are like strong seasoning that is appropriate only to some dishes, and only when applied with moderation. 

Now, the book or article format of its very nature encourages the making of a more careful case, and the second-guessing of a biting quip that may sound less wise or called for after one has “slept on it.”  Having an editor helps too, obviously.  Naturally, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t an enormous amount of garbage published in those formats.  All the same, of their nature, they at least do not allow for the instantaneous public expression of snap judgments and emotional overreactions.

The trouble with platforms like Twitter is that of their very nature, they not only allow for but positively encourage these things, and on a massive scale.  Facebook is only somewhat better.  These “social media” are deeply anti-social, encouraging polarization and making sober and dispassionate discourse increasingly difficult.

Now, individual right-wingers and left-wingers alike can be and have been guilty of the sins in question.  But to see the perfect harmony of diabolical message and corrupting medium, you have to look left.  It is no accident that the Gnostic cult that is the “Critical Social Justice” movement has flourished in this toxic social media environment, like a tapeworm inside a large intestine.  Its Manichean division of human beings into oppressors and oppressed and its contempt for logic and objectivity as masks of the oppressor provide an ideological rationalization for the simple-minded sloganeering, ad hominem abuse, and manufactured mob outrage to which social media platforms are already prone.  And the seething envy and resentment which, as Plato and Nietzsche warn us, are the emotional fuel of egalitarian politics, make the combination positively addictive.

In “Critical Social Justice” and its social media driven cancel culture, what would otherwise be mere individual human foibles become the consciously embraced and ruthlessly applied tactics of a political program.  It is as if Twitter and other contemporary social media had been summoned from Dante’s fifth circle to supply a mouth through which this monster of hatred and unreason might shriek.  

Related reading:

The Gnostic heresy’s political successors

Woke ideology is a psychological disorder

Wrath and its daughters

Psychoanalyzing the sexual revolutionary

Envy cancels justice

The Bizarro world of left-wing politics

312 comments:

  1. Ed,
    You make some important points about twitter.
    In your article on the gnostic cult to which you give a link, you minimize the differences between Marxism, Nazism, Marcionism, Sethian Gnosticism, Manicheism, Vegetarianism, Pacifism, Libertinism, and Critical Race Theory. By making them all manifestations of "Gnosticism" you risk doing what you criticize these ideologies for: casting something in the role of omnipotent villain.

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    1. Hi Tim,

      First, you've mischaracterized what I said in the article. I did not characterize vegetarianism, pacifism, and libertinism themselves as forms of Gnosticism (which would be ludicrous). What I said is that varieties of Gnosticism often have those ideas or tendencies as elements. But the elements themselves are not per se Gnostic. Someone could be a vegetarian, pacifist, or libertine for non-Gnostic reasons. (And vegetarianism is not even per se bad in the first place. It depends on the motivation.)

      The point was that there are tendencies within Gnosticism (having to do with its attitude toward matter) which make those ideas attractive to the Gnostic mindset, so that they when they occur together they can be strong indicators of a Gnostic mindset even if, especially when considered in isolation, they are not certain marks of it. (Think of it on the model of diagnosing a disease. There are certain symptoms that might occur with lots of different diseases or even in the absence of any disease, but which, when they occur together, do indicate the presence of some particular disease.)

      Second, I don’t minimize the differences between Marxism, Nazism, Marcionism, Sethian Gnosticism, Manicheism, and Critical Race Theory. Of course there are significant differences. But the article was not attempting to give an exhaustive compare-and-contrast of everything that might be said to fall under the “Gnostic” label (and I could hardly do that in one article anyway). Rather, it was about how there are enough significant similarities between CRT and various forms of Gnosticism – especially as Voegelin conceives of Gnosticism – to diagnose CRT as an instance of the same mindset. (In general, the “But you didn’t address everything in one article!” sort of response to what somewhat writes is never, in my view, terribly helpful.)

      Third, I fail to see how I said anything that remotely amounts to “risk[ing] doing what you criticize these ideologies for: casting something in the role of omnipotent villain.” (And naturally, I didn’t claim CRT or any other form of Gnosticism is “omnipotent,” since only God is that, but leave that aside.)

      For one thing, casting something in the role of a grand and powerful villain is not per se Gnostic. For example, believing in Satan is not per se a mark of Gnosticism. Believing that Hitler or Stalin were massive threats to world peace is not per se a mark of Gnosticism. Believing that Nazism, Communism, CRT, etc. are dangerous and divisive is not per se a mark of Gnosticism. Etc. And I made it clear what are marks of Gnosticism, namely (a) a tendency simplistically to trace all evils to this one villain, (b) a Manichean tendency to demonize all who disagree with one’s views as wicked allies of this villain, (c) a tendency toward so extreme and paranoid a view about the corruption of human faculties that a self-refuting epistemological skepticism becomes unavoidable, (d) a contempt for ordinary life and institutions, as alleged manifestations of the villain, that makes natural law and ordinary decency impossible, etc.

      I obviously said nothing that implies any of that. In particular, I never said or implied anything to the effect that CRT or other forms of Gnosticism are such all-pervasive forms of villainy that they are the source of all that is wrong in the world, that we cannot trust ordinary standards of rationality or of morality, that we cannot trust ordinary social institutions, that all those who disagree with me are evil, etc.

      In short, what I was criticizing CRT for is its Critical Theory background and the “hermeneutics of suspicion” that Critical Theory shares with Gnosticism. And it is quite silly to respond to that by saying “Ah, well you’re suspicious and critical of CRT and Gnosticism, so you’re guilty of the same thing!” Being suspicious or critical of something doesn’t amount to a “hermeneutics of suspicion” or to a “critical theory” in the technical Critical Theory sense.

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    2. For something to truly be gnostic, it would have to have most or all of the gnostic markers, I would imagine. So Vegetarianism would only be a mark of gnosticism if it acompanied all or most of the other gnostic tendencies. Same thing for pacifism.

      It seems to me the common thread among all these examples is the complete demonization of what is perceived as evil. The rejection of any common ground of goodness that can make it possible to have a rational discussion. The treating of one's political, religious, or ideological enemy as subhuman and subrational and worthy of being destroyed.

      I would suggest that this tendency is countered by Jesus's injunction to love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. That is hard to do when your being trolled in a combox or trolling someone in a twitter thread. The temptation to respond in kind is really really really difficult to resist.

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    3. Ed,
      Thanks for making an extensive reply.
      I concede your point regarding vegetarianism, pacifism and libertinism. It is sufficient for my point that you consider Nazism, Marxism, Marcionism, Sethian Gnosticism, and Critical Race Theory, and various early/medieval groups such as Paulicians, Albigensians, Cathars etc. as participants in the Gnostic heresy. As far as I can tell, you accept Voegelin's claim that the Puritans are "a more recent riff on the same basic mindset" and that "communism, National Socialism, progressivism, and scientism are all essentially secularized versions of Gnosticism." I take you to be claiming substantially more than that these ideologies share with gnosticism the hermeneutics of suspicion. You need to do a lot more work to back that claim that they are ESSENTIALLY secularized versions of gnosticism, rather than they share a certain feature or two with gnosticism. The term "omnipotent villain" was taken from your article--"Here it is the Jews who are cast in the role of omnipotent villain." Perhaps if I used another term in your article, "all-pervasive and near omnipotent evil," it would have been better.
      I do think that you use the term gnosticism far too quickly for a group opposed to Roman Catholicism. I presume you would not regard the Oriental Apostolic churches (all of which have different Bibles) and the Eastern Orthodox churches as gnostic.

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    4. Hi again Tim,

      First, that Marcionism, Sethian Gnosticism, Paulicianism, Albigensianism, Catharism, etc. are, despite their differences, variations on a common mindset is not a novel idea, and certainly not unique to Voegelin or me. Maybe you don’t agree with it, which is fine, but it certainly is not a terribly bold or unusual claim to make, and neither is it based merely on a common feature or two. (Nor, I suppose I should add, is it only Catholic apologists who would link these views together as all variations on Gnosticism. Cf. e.g. Steven Runciman’s book The Medieval Manichee, or for that matter Voegelin, who was not Catholic.)

      Second, that Nazism, Communism, etc. are secularized versions of the Gnostic mentality is indeed a more controversial thesis, but still pretty familiar from Voegelin’s well-known analysis, and certainly also one that is based on more than just a common feature or two. And of course, it is crucial to understand it in light of the qualifications that Voegelin himself put on the claim. In particular, the “immanentizing of the eschaton” – also a very well-known theme of Voegelin’s – is crucial to understanding the way he thinks modernity has dramatically altered the basic Gnostic mindset and redirected it in a this-worldly way. So, if one were merely to point out that ancient and medieval forms of Gnosticism differed in significant ways from these modern ideologies, that’s not by itself a very telling point. Voegelin is well aware of that and makes it clear why he thinks that the modern views are nevertheless continuous with the same basic mindset. You might disagree, which again is fine, but just pointing out that there are more complexities there than I had time to get into in the article is not really much of an objection. It wasn’t meant to be a full dress presentation of Voegelin’s position, but just a summary to set the stage for the contemporary application to CRT and QAnon.

      Third, the stuff about capital-p Puritanism, which I gather you found especially annoying, is not essential to Voegelin’s case (even if lower-case-p puritanism is), and neither are some of the other examples he gives. You can chuck that part out if you’d like and it would not affect the basic point either of Voegelin’s analysis or of my use of it. I was not endorsing just everything Voegelin says, nor do I hold that his analysis is equally plausible with respect to all the modern views he treats.

      Also, I certainly said nothing that implies that just any old view that is opposed to Roman Catholicism counts as “Gnostic” (which would also be ludicrous). So I have no idea where that last paragraph of yours is coming from!

      Anyway, my article was pretty obviously an analysis of and attack on CRT, specifically (as well as QAnon), and I think that if Voegelin’s position is illuminating as an analysis of views like Nazism and Communism (which I think it is) then it is also illuminating as an analysis of CRT. And again, not because of one or two superficial features but because of a number of deep and significant common features of the kind I emphasized in my previous response above. I gather that your beef with what I wrote is that you don’t like what you took as passing insinuations about the nature of certain Christian groups. Fine, but that’s not what the article was about.

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    5. Speaking of which:

      https://archive.org/details/SymbolismOrExpositionV1/page/n419/mode/1up

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  2. Speaking of comparing article formats to social media - did you here about Peter Singer starting a journal where people can publish under pseudonyms. The idea is to challenge and question sensitive topics which otherwise may put the scholars career in danger.

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    1. Sounds most interesting. Do you have a link?

      WCB

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    2. WCB

      Never mind! Found it!

      https://journalofcontroversialideas.org/

      What jolly fun.

      WCB

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    3. Singer and Co. talk big, but I suspect they will continue their secretly-paranoid avoidance of self-reference issues. Unless like Pinker they think Christianity is so weak that the coast is clear for defending modernist scientific realism against postmodernists' "I'm so objective and infallibly certain about how we're all so subjective and fallible" garbage. It will be interesting to see how rationalist atheists fare against the pomo scolds who want them dead (along with Christians of course).

      The problem common to both secular groups, however, is that things like equality, anti-racism, and so on, have the same imaginary friend problem as God in the absence of objectivity, reason, truth, absolutes, and moral obligation.

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    4. Machine

      Who or what is a 'porno scold'?

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    5. not porno, but pomo as in POstMOdernist

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  3. What's probably worse is that established media facilitates this base behavior like a small-time drug dealer. Facts and objective analysis of kids in cages, the latest fake hate crime, or police shooting do not get clicks, deceptively edited video and the usual verbal framing do. Pretty soon, you might even have people defending knife fights or something.

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  4. Anticipating a comment from Papalinton, Unknown, and the usual suspects about how right-wingers are eviler and crazier than any liberal, how everything Feser said was a giant cope for the right-wing being made up of losers, about how Professor Feser should become a liberal like all of the cool kids, etc., etc.

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    1. Don't have to write the comment now Mr G, as you have already done it so eloquently. But seriously, who really cares what some unknown philosopher teaching Phil 101 at Shitty College thinks? And havn't you something better to do than take pre-emptive swipes at your critics - jabbering to the host of completely undetectable disembodied intelligences that populate your delusional reality for example ( a virgin, legions of saints, the three persons of your polytheism etc )?

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    2. https://thumbs.gfycat.com/ThinBlondCat-small.gif

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    3. Unknown,

      You guys are just so predictable, it's hilarious. It's almost like you're robots following a script.

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    4. Unknown,
      “But seriously, who really cares what some unknown philosopher teaching Phil 101 at Shitty College thinks.”
      Probably the people who frequently read and comment on his blog… does that sound like anyone you know?

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    5. That is a discussion that would look ok on Twitter.

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    6. They all just proved Dr. Feser correct by acting like assholes.

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    7. Journal

      Someone has to provide the disinfectant when the filth starts appearing.

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    8. Unknown,

      I certainly don't think your comments are on par with Feser's in terms of intellectual substance. Thing is, you could easily make smarter posts. Just... don't rely on arguments that appeal to authority or popularity, and don't respond to people having different views from you with indignation and invective. Then you too, can have smarter blog post comments. You really hold yourself back.

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  5. Daniel 5.34PM

    I hope that you are not referring to your recent experience in relating how difficult it is not to respond angrily when being trolled in a combox, as if so you are manufacturing revisionist excuses. You were not being trolled at all, you retorted to a perfectly legitimate post with an angry 'Shut it!' Good job that you had no power to enforce compliance and so was repremanded for your twattish behaviour.

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  6. I'm not sure the medium is to blame for the message in this case. Mob rule and idiots who rule the roost have been in this world ever since civil society began. The same thing that causes some to talk over others at the local football club meeting makes them send off tweets now. Twitter allows them to become a lot more influential than the old village idiot, but only because the village now is huge.

    Twitter was never meant to be a forum for deep debate as much as a place where people "voted" on views they already held, or subscribed to those whose views resonated with them. It's a giant village meeting where the noisy ones get to be heard.

    The fact that the left manipulates a forum like this is only testimony to its long-held strategy of war (cultural, political, or real). In a war you don't always need to argue the message. Indeed, it's sometimes vital one doesn't. "Discussion" in this context is entertained for the purposes of recruitment, and isolating and attacking the enemy. This isn't irrational per se (no matter how mad the ideology being defended). It's noticeable that leftist comments are much more scripted than those on the right, which are a lot more confused and jumbled, and liable to being restrained by "wiser" voices.

    In itself, the main evil here is that the left is able to mobilise better and present a coherent war strategy. The left's opposition seems unable to present a coherent alternative. This has been the case for many decades now, whatever the medium involved. Natural law has been sidelined in the West for over half a century and, once that is done, the aberrations seen are difficult to oppose rationally. This is seen in Trump's picking and choosing on such matters but in this he behaves like a typical Republican voter.

    In this cultural/political war, leadership and strategy have been lacking, and the truth has been sacrificed in the interests of winning the next election, or not understood even by our would-be leaders. It seems a monumental waste of critical faculties if the main conclusion is to support the status quo, or that of fifty years ago.

    Perhaps if people had reacted instinctively and angrily fifty years ago when their instincts were sounder, much of this would have been avoided. This is water under the bridge now. However, the purpose of reflection on society is to take action, not merely point to an enemy who did his reflection ages ago and is now putting it into practice.

    There is a kind of action which is also more instructive than any discussion - what revolutionaries called the "propaganda of the deed", and of which organisations like Greenpeace have been quite expert at. Such actions are effective because the vast majority of people simply don't reflect that much on social issues. In these conflicts mobilisation is everything.

    On Twitter, as in the old village meeting, mobilisation of supporters is also the key. This is the way society works. Refusal to accept this is to accept defeat before we start. The great error of those who promoted the Church's social teaching for over a century was that most of them never went beyond repeating its principles. Which is fine, but these principles are not a blueprint for society or how to run a war. When it comes to action, most well-meaning Catholics in the West have been co-opted by political and economic systems that are incompatible with their principles. I'm optimistic that the current situation will make them rethink that at last.

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    1. I suspect that the main issue is that we Christians often fail to recognize that the problem involves principalities and powers. And that these are not on the left or on the right. They are superational beings trying to make us subhuman and subrational. What we need is the patience and persistence of an exhorsist, calmly and contiually calling out and casting out evil. And shedding light wherever they fester.

      Ed has a point in calling out Gnosticism as a quasi master heresy. The core of Gnosticism is the denail of Christ's incarnation. And in that doctrine lies the root of all forms of dualisms positing a war between the spirit and the flesh, the proletariote and the bourgoisi, the master race and the inferior races (the Jews).

      And our champions are not often political leaders. Our champions are saints sent by God. They are not often the saints we would wish, in terms of politics. But they do have their impact, which is often apolitical in nature. Christ did not very much care who was in power. Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesare and to God what belongs to God. That has been the Christian way from the start. We ought not to be overly tied to any politicacl ideology.

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  7. Laudator Temporis ActiApril 29, 2021 at 1:45 AM

    The infamous Jesuit Father Leonard Feeney would not have been in the slightest surprised by the "toxicity" of Twitter, Critical Race Theory and the current demonization of certain groups of American. But he wouldn't have called CRT "gnostic." And he effectively predicted the current madness way back in the 1950s, when the foundations for it were already being laid. Feeney was a great admirer of Hilaire Belloc, but I think Feeney was a better writer and addressed the roots of anti-Christianity more directly and clearly. I don't agree with Feeny's interpretation of Nulla Salus Extra Ecclesiam, but one has to admit that all his warnings about the consequences of abandoning a strict interpretation has proved correct.

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  8. This OP started out very promising. And I was heartened to read what Dr Feser had written about Twitter.

    "...“the medium is the message” was never more true than in the case of Twitter. And the message is malign." Yes, I said to myself. I'd go along with that.

    "You read or hear about something you disagree with. You make a snap judgment, and send out a tweet about it. Because it’s a snap judgment, there is a very strong chance of its being wrong or half-baked or otherwise defective." Yes. Absolutely.

    "..you’re likely to make it snarky, or even insulting toward whoever it is you’re disagreeing with.". True. That is what happens. Civility and decency is pushed out of the discussion.

    All those aggressive stances, snarkiness, doubling down, verbal abuse, character assassination, bullying, threats and the ugliness all become the overriding features of the Twitter 'message', with no pretence of civility, fairness, manners, graciousness, nor courtesy. Twitter, if anything is the medium which seems the easiest to betray the ugliest of our nature. All the way along I was in complete accord with Dr Feser. It seemed we did have a common sense of decency, a common sense of morality, of ethics and both looked askance at the value of Twitter as a social medium let alone a social good. For the first seven paragraphs of nine in the OP I was with Feser all the way.

    Then a complete brain fart hits Feser. He simply could not contain himself. He drops a bombshell. His brain explodes into a massive Twitter rage that any Trumpist sycophant or conservative QAnon conspiracist would have been proud. In 243 characters, well within the Twitter 280 character max, he peddles the BIG LIE:

    "But to see the perfect harmony of diabolical message and corrupting medium, you have to look left. It is no accident that the Gnostic cult that is the “Critical Social Justice” movement has flourished in this toxic social media environment, like a tapeworm inside a large intestine."

    The greatest identified threat in the US at this time is not from the left, never had been over many decades. Every American security and intelligence agency, department and bureau have over the last decade, and even throughout the whole of Trump's four disastrous years, had identified the threat emanating from the right, ultra right-wing, conservative, white supremacist Facism.

    Eric Voegelin's piece is the bleating voice of those who have been rightly marginalised by the great swath of humanity looking for a better, more inclusive, diverse, friendly accepting society more reflectively representative of the wonderfully multicultural and ethnically diverse communities that are today's models. To believe that 'modernity is essentially an apostate and heretical phenomenon' speaks volumes about the advocacy for separateness, of segregation, the ugliness of tribalism, predisposed to all of the base primal attributes and instincts indistinguishable from those that drive every other animal species on this planet. 'Apostate' and 'heresy' are religious terms, circumscribed solely by religious sentiment. Voegelin is desperately unhappy with the manner in which his worldview is being challenged, rebutted and found wanting. Feser reflects that unhappiness, both he and Voegelin are misfits, social misfits in contemporary society. But that is to be expected if one doesn't have the intellectual genetics to meet future changes, to widen their scope of opportunities. The Church, once the centre of community life, is largely no more.
    It is inexorably finding itself relegated to the pages of history as a more dynamic and interactive community seeks to shed old skin and metamorphose into a citizenry better prepared to meet the existential challenges going forward. The Church is the appendix of the body politic, once useful, now no longer functional, but remains a painful health and medical nuisance.







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    1. Someone pick up the phone... because I called it!

      Someone should make a Papalinton Bingo, consisting of all of the clichés he espouses without ever responding to critics.

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    2. Papalinton, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

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    3. @Papalinton

      What is your opinion on Nietzsche? While you guys have(i think) pretty diferent political views, trying to analise your style here made me remember the german.

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    4. Theophilus
      I'm happy you think so. It means I'm on the right track. Sorry to disappoint you Theophilus, but sometimes it's necessary to let people like you right up front know that this right-wing deeply facist tribalist worldview is no longer acceptable in today's community. As Anonymous says, ".. mistreat people systematically, and they will react." And that is exactly the kind of 'good trouble' that people today are engaging in. Whether it is perpetuated by the Church or Conservative right-wing political organisations.

      No, Mr Geocon, 'systemic racism' is not a leftist spook invention. It is a real and very dangerous manifestation of right-wing religious conservative thought that has gone largely unchecked for the 100+ years of the Jim Crow era.

      "Many Christian ministers and theologians taught that whites were the Chosen people, blacks were cursed to be servants, and God supported racial segregation." SEE HERE. From Ferris University, Michigan.

      While you and Theophilus bury your head in theological sand, the tide in community sentiment is inexorably changing, and changing against the worldview you represent and espouse, along with Feser et al.

      And that is a good thing in the long run.

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    5. We still have a long way to go in the equal treatment of black and brown people in all facets of life, even if it means quashing the religious frame of reference that broadly underpins the social injustice we witness every day in our neighbourhood. Mr Geocon and Theophilus, and others, I would suggest you rethink, and intellectually challenge your current position and direction. Staying the course isn't an option as it might have been in years past. Social mores in the public square have moved on.

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    6. Papalinton

      You have a host of detracters on here who impugn and malign you at ever opportunity, though your analyses are to my mind incisive and generally spot on. The reason for this is not hard to discern - the regular contributors are replete with right wing racists, misogynists and homophobes, who live in a demon haunted world, hate our freedoms and are often conspiracy theorists of one stripe or another to boot. They are dreadful people. You have shown remarkable resiliance in sticking around here for well over a decade now I believe, and long may your contributions continue. Please remember that maybe a few thousand people will read your words, and many will rejoice at them. Not all readers of this blog will be Geocon clones, and some way well be swayed by what you have to say.

      The RC church is largly irrelevant in Europe now, with its influence fast declining even in Poland. Even in the US religiosity is declining, and it is clear that the socialist and liberal non-religious will soon swamp the religious right .The culture wars will be won decisively by our side, and the perspectives advocated by Feser and his acolytes utterly crushed. This is all but inevitable. The young will be the instrument of nothing less.

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    7. Dear Papalinton, I would like to let you know in the most calm possible terms that I felt your comment to be seriously triggering. I identify as hard right and its been a real struggle for me. To see you come and out with this vitriolic hate speech rekindled my PTSD and sent me into shock. You could at least have prefaced it with a CONTENT WARNING. My views are not my choice. I was born with them. When I came out of the womb I knew I was a fascist. It is in my genes. This is infallibly the case because my feelings say so. Admire the utter correctness of this enthymeme. I feel it to be so. Would you really claim to invalidate my emotions? This is who I am and I'm not afraid anymore. And you hate me because of it? I am stunned and shook by this bigotry. I am sorry if I offended you with that last word because you might identify as a bigot. If so then I do not judge. Be who you are and I am proud of you for being so strong and brave. Okay, peace and respect. Bye.

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    8. Dear Papalinton, I would like to let you know in the most calm possible terms that I felt your comment to be seriously triggering. I identify as hard right and its been a real struggle for me. To see you come and out with this vitriolic hate speech rekindled my PTSD and sent me into shock. You could at least have prefaced it with a CONTENT WARNING. My views are not my choice. I was born with them. When I came out of the womb I knew I was a fascist. It is in my genes. This is infallibly the case because my feelings say so. Admire the utter correctness of this enthymeme. I feel it to be so. Would you really claim to invalidate my emotions? This is who I am and I'm not afraid anymore. And you hate me because of it? I am stunned and shook by this bigotry. I am sorry if I offended you with that last word because you might identify as a bigot. If so then I do not judge. Be who you are and I am proud of you for being so strong and brave. Okay, peace and respect. Bye.

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    9. Hahahahahahahahaha. Nice :)

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    10. Ignatius

      What a moron you are - you and your cackling sidekick Daniel.

      Fascists and bigots should be opposed. In fact, with fascist who are organising and mobalising on the street , it is an urgent matter of community self defence to oppose them physically, chase them off the streets and break their organisation. This is a political matter of the uttmost utgency and seriousness. Of course, I would not expect a bunch of pathetic cowards like yourselves to see this, when you cannot even mobalise in defence of what you consider to be theongoing indudtrial scale murder of children.

      Delete
    11. Well, I thought it was funny.

      Delete
    12. Yes I am a moron and your ableism makes me sick

      Delete
    13. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha - there you are, more laughs than lickspittle Daniel gave you last time for your latest burst of genius humour. Thought i'd get in thete first!

      Delete
    14. Unknown,

      Why should anyone consider mobs of violent left-wing anarchists and communists - sorry, "community self defence" - be better than fascists? Do we consider the crimes they commit excusable because left-wing souls are inherently purer?

      Delete
  9. WCB

    "Now, individual right-wingers and left-wingers alike can be and have been guilty of the sins in question. But to see the perfect harmony of diabolical message and corrupting medium, you have to look left. It is no accident that the Gnostic cult that is the “Critical Social Justice” movement has flourished in this toxic social media environment, like a tapeworm inside a large intestine. "
    - Ed Feser

    It is no secret that racism is still alive and well in America. we have the rising Jim Crow and systemic racism that plagues Black Americans, Hispanics and now, Asians again.

    Imagine! PoC are angry and upset about this and are fighting it. They can't do that! Ed, mistreat people systematically, and they will react. Gnosticism? what sort of rhetoric is that? Gnosticism! Radical Left! Cultural Marxism. Cancel Culture! The conservatives are experts a this social media garbage you decry.

    Both sideism is rampant, and other rhetorical attacks on those who are just tire of being targets for systemic racism.

    You have a tin ear, and are part of the problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Systemic racism is a spook invented by Leftists to blame rural white conservatives for their own failures.

      Let us formalize the problem. The problem of "systemic racism" is that economic outcomes of blacks and whites are unequal. Now, the Left has political dominance of some of the richest areas of the country (Silicon Valley, Seattle, New York City, etc.) yet even with that political dominance and that wealth, they are completely unable to equalize outcomes. In response to this failure, they must blame some nebulous omnipotent boogeyman - "systemic racism."

      Now, there are two possible reasons for this - either the economic inequality between whites and blacks is impossible for the Left to solve or they don't want to solve it. Either of these are fatal for the whole project of anti-racism.

      Delete
    2. With respect to systemic racism, I feel as though I am living through one of those periodic bouts of acute universal hysteria that one reads about: like the Salem witch trials perhaps, but with the notable difference that witches, unlike the specter of systemic racism, actually exist.

      Delete
    3. Ian,

      You certainly aren't wrong. The hunt for fascists under the bed works exactly like a witch hunt.

      Delete
  10. WBC

    Systemic racism is very real. If you have not been able to notice this fact, you have not been paying attention. It is not an invention of the left. It is a fact of life that is inflicted daily on millions of American PoC.

    This does not bother lots of very religious Americans who go to the voting booth to support the GOP that has helped keep this a problem ever since Nixon and his Southern Strategy got the racist Dixiecrats to switch to the newly racist GOP. And, lots of young Americans, especially young American PoC notice. And are abandoning religion and churches in droves because of that.

    And are now going to fight this sort of toxic right winged systematic racism tooth and nail. This is not same far left ideology. It is personal.

    WCB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I notice your complete and utter refusal to even acknowledge that Geocon said anything to you and have simply doubled down on your beliefs and loudly asserting that they are true and so obviously true that you must be a blind idiot racist if you have even the slightest doubt that they're true. This is the rhetorical equivalent of pounding on the table - loud and showy but with no substance.

      Delete
    2. Also, more white people are killed by police every year than black people. You just don't see them on the news or getting streets named after them, because their deaths aren't politically useful.

      Delete
    3. These people act like the portion of their brain dedicated to making rational arguments and the portion of their brain dedicated to making moral proclamations seems disconnected. I know it's not, but it's so funny how they act like that.

      Delete
    4. Cantus
      "Also, more white people are killed by police every year than black people. You just don't see them on the news or getting streets named after them, because their deaths aren't politically useful."

      The motivation here is driven by deep pathological racism at the core of this statement. With that kind of thinking there can and will be no justice. I'm white, and there is a problem. Your ilk are the problem.

      Delete
    5. Papalinton,

      Thankfully, I have made a habit of ignoring everything you say, with the obvious exception of this post. Your ignoring of my words to psychically analyse my hidden bad motives is a prime example of Bulverism. You do not have access to my mind, so please shut up about its contents. I fully expect you to respond with a fluffy cloud of nonsense that fails to address anything I said. In the highly unlikely event that you actually want to have a discussion, present any evidence whatsoever that my earlier claim is wrong. If not, I will resume ignoring you for the sake of my own mental health.

      Delete
    6. Cantus
      You have been caught out lying. Your motives are not hidden and I don't have to 'read
      between the lines'. They are embedded in the nonsense you write.

      Delete
    7. Welp, can't say I expected anything else. Goodbye, and may God have mercy on you.

      Delete
    8. Your God already has been merciful to me. He allows me to make comment every time I see great injustice and prejudice being peddled under the guise of faith. And voilà, here I am on this blog aren't I? :)

      I have absolutely no fear of your GOD because HE knows I'm doing good work.

      Delete
    9. WCB

      Perhaps, if there is a God, the rising movement of people noting the rise of systematic racism in MAGA America, and the "woke" reaction to it all among young American PoC is God's doing? Again, the religious right's support of MAGA and lack of concern for systemic racism, and police unfairness to PoC is not helping Religion in America.

      And staying quiet about it, lack of action, is not an option either. We are now reaching the "Who's side are you on?" tipping point in the rising battle against America's rising New Jim Crow antics of the religious right Red states.

      Many churches now, including the RCC are beginning to find out it is getting very hard to recruit new members among young Americans.

      Maybe God is speaking? See Isaiah 1.

      WCB

      Delete
  11. "These dangers, viz., the confounding of license with liberty, the passion for discussing and pouring contempt upon any possible subject, the assumed right to hold whatever opinions one pleases upon any subject and to set them forth in print to the world, have so wrapped minds in darkness that there is now a greater need of the Church’s teaching office than ever before, lest people become unmindful both of conscience and of duty."

    -Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae
    Concerning New Opinions, Virtue, Nature and Grace, With Regard to Americanism
    Pope Leo XIII - 1899

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Miguel CervantesMay 1, 2021 at 12:17 AM

      Well said. Twitter is indeed an ideal medium for such a worldview as Americanism.

      Delete
    2. You know, i had not understood that quote before but thanks to Miguel i do get it now!

      Yea, the social media helps make the americanist heresy more popular. Now i wonder how social media works on places outside the west. Do the lack of enlightenment values prevents this type of behavior becoming popular?

      Delete
    3. Miguel CervantesMay 1, 2021 at 11:29 PM

      It's good that you understand the quote now Talmid. Unfortunately you don't seem to have understood my comment. In line with the quote, I wanted to reiterate that Twitter is a great expression of the sort of mentality behind Americanism, not that it would necessarily allow Americanism to spread everywhere. No doubt if Twitter exists in Afghanistan or North Korea, and many other states, it won't have quite the same nature.

      Delete
    4. Oh, i get it now, thanks.

      Delete
  12. The social media example highlights a certain feature of technology to which conservatives ought to pay more attention. It is true that there is a sense in which technology is inherently neutral, but only in a trivial and uninteresting sense. In practical terms, any given technology will create incentives, and these incentives will influence society in positive or negative directions. The power of some technologies to enable vicious behavior makes a free market approach to such technologies a recipe for social catastrophe.

    A well-ordered society would attempt to evaluate a new technology to ascertain its likely effects on the family, on the community, on religion. If judged to have an expected baleful effect on society, it would act to limit its use, prescribe measures to counteract its bad effects, or even proscribe it altogether.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Amish do something like that, no?

      While i think that the "technology is cool and that is it" thinking is dangerous and imprudent, men desire for power and mastery over everything make something like that pretty hard in a large scale on this fallen world. Suppose a society study a technology and end up rejecting it, another society could use it and get a edge against the first one, becoming a potential(and likely actual, eventually) menace.

      People nowdays act like if europeans did what they did with traditional societies because whiteness, christianity, whatever, are by themselves bad or something, but every group that is more powerful that the others has that risk, as history show.

      The desire for confort is also a thing on rejecting a technology, but i don't have much to say here.

      Delete
    2. And i remember Unabomber calling conservatives stupid for not seeing what you are saying. Yea, it is a pretty big fall on the worldview.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, I think the Amish approach is not as insensible as people sometimes think. While they are pretty extreme, they are not against technology as such: each Amish community evaluates a technology and decides whether it is compatible with the community's way of life or not.

      Of course, the Amish live within larger societies that protect them from external military threats, and they can take advantage of modern medicine developed by the 'English', which helps enable their way of life.

      I agree that any society will have strong incentives to adopt technologies to gain an edge over rival nations. Some of these have real benefits, such as technologies needed to protect the nation from enemies in a modern world, or medical life-saving technologies. Nevertheless, it behooves a nation to distinguish between these sorts of technologies and other technologies that merely make a nation attractive because it can better satiate our consumer desires. And even in the case of military technologies or other technologies that provide real benefits, they'll often come with unintended negative consequences (e.g., rapid long-distance transportation has some real benefits, but also has helped lead to destruction of some of our communities and increased social atomization), and such consequences ought to be balanced against the benefits and then mitigated to the extent they can be.

      Delete
    4. I agree that we should evaluate tech more before letting it become popular and that not all tech produces risk to nations that do not use they, but there is still the pratical question of how to do it.

      The average person is not exactly a saint, so when a new thing comes that makes the person day more pleasurable it will be hard to convince she that it should not be used. Maybe you could, by using the State and institutions like media, universities etc, manufacturate a sort of social repulse to the technology, but our leaders are not exactly better persons that the average guy. Not to mention, the internet makes being exposed to other nations propaganda easier.

      In the end, i doubt that we could adopt in pratice a diferent approach to technology. The modern life is very fragile, thought, so a disaster or crisis could end the whole tech thing, who knows the future.

      Delete
  13. The CRT-Twitter crowd is comprised of people who have deluded and habituated themselves into loving their own weakness.

    The QAnon-Twitter crowd is comprised of people who are in denial of their own weakness.

    The off-Twitter crowd is comprised of people who neither love their own weakness nor deny it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Yawn. As usual another post designed to shame people for fighting racism and say they are the real problem, instead of y'know, actual racist. The fact people on this blog are defending Geocon a known white supremacist tells me everything I need to know about this blog.

    As for systemic racism and proof of it. Look here:

    https://www.businessinsider.com/us-systemic-racism-in-charts-graphs-data-2020-6

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/100-statistics-prove-systemic-racism-thing-kelly-burton-phd

    https://www.vox.com/2020/6/17/21284527/systemic-racism-black-americans-9-charts-explained

    " At the level of systemic justice there's more black people doing prison labour today than were enslaved in the United States in 1850. That's appalling. Many experts consider black prison labour to be a modern form of slavery, given how bad prison conditions are, how bias in the judicial system leads to more black incarceration, the market value of private prison labour, and how long-term incarceration tends to cause the children of felons to be incarcerated as well, leading to generations of incarcerated labour."

    https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2015/mar/15/jalen-ross/black-name-resume-50-percent-less-likely-get-respo/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You say that Geocon is a known white supremacist. Frankly this would not surprise me, as it comports well with his many other right wing beliefs, including his loathing of liberal democracy and thirst for a global authoritarianism in which gay and trans people would be subject to 'treatment' or institutionalised, but I was not aware of it. Thank you for exposing this further unsavory fact about him.

      Delete
    2. @Adam Leo

      Ignoring the Geocon stuff*, why do you feel that this is evidence of the existence of sistematic racism on the EUA? It seems to me that the crappy situation of blacks can be explained by the existence of sistematic racism on the past that created severe inequalities that where never properly adressed and so could not be overcomed by the black community(dudes can't do magic, after all), being them perpetuated to this day. If this hypothesis can explain the evidence them i don't see why we have to postulate the existence of a rigged game.

      I'am not american, btw, so maybe there is something that i'iam ignoring. Still, my hypothesis seems to be usualky ignored in the debate, here and there.


      *not that i think that he is a racist, i don't remember anything like that from his videos that i have seen

      Delete
    3. Good points Talmid. On a deeper level, I'm wondering whether majority minority numbers might not be a factor as well? Historically speaking, minorities just never do as well as populations in the majority. And where a minority is in power over a majority, its just a matter of time for that majority to take over. And race is really only one factor. There is also economic class.

      Looking at the history of my family in Canada, we came over from Ireland during the potato famine into a predominantly Protestant region. A massive portion of Irish Catholic immigrants converted to whatever was the Protestant majority in their area just to survive and prosper. You can tell what happened even today in our post Christian world just by looking at where the Catholic churches were built in comparison to the Protestant churches. The church my ancestors helped to build was way outside of town. Our family did pretty well, despite the disadvantages and became fairly prominent members of the society, despite the prejudices they experienced. One particularly wild great Aunt eloped with a local boy and ran off to New York city – they became involved in all sorts of Irish gang violence and crime, but they eventually settled down.

      On the French side of my family, the same experience occurred. Minority French Catholic in a majority Anglo protestant area. They were very poor. In the summer they would farm. In the winter, my grandfather would be part of the lumber camps and would participate in the log drives down our local river. They also competed with the Irish Catholics, who had a leg up on them because at least they spoke the same language as the Anglo protestants in power.

      We have some Indian ancestry - the Montaignais tribe - but not enough to be able to claim a status card. But the Indian tribes have had the hardest time in our country. Of course our European culture as a whole was completely alien to them. They could not and would not adapt well to the many cultures that had come over. The residential school system was a well intentioned project by the powers that be in Canada to commit cultural genocide against these native populations ... to civilize them. The harm this has done to them is extensive.

      So the problem in Canada, at least, is how to deal with this historic shame, and how to address the needs of this minority population. Here is where I think some caution needs to happen - the residential school system itself was a well meaning attempt by those in cultural power -the majority - to help this minority group. And it failed disastrously. The current government has diversity quotas in terms of hiring practices by the federal government. But this just helps them to get absorbed into our massive government bureaucracy - which is also a product and institution of the majority in power. No one likes to work for the Canadian Federal government. Being a bureaucrat doesn't do much to instill a sense of self worth.

      So their problem is how to hold onto their culture, how to maintain a sense of dignity and self worth, all while remaining autonomous and separate from this predominantly European majority culture? Flash points of conflict are the drug trade -although we can hope that now that pot is legal in Canada this is perhaps going to be less of a problem. Other problems are infrastructure related – in some towns the water supply is not doing well. And last, but not least of their problems, is their poor results in education. All the jobs and industry that would lead to financial success require better grades – and, worst of all, interaction and dependence on the European majority culture.

      So the question for myself is, what can I do to help these people? My initial thought is that they need to solve the problem on their own somehow. The answers can’t be imposed from power centers outside of their control…. And what will those answers be for them? I don’t know.

      Delete
    4. Racism against black people isn't something I've personally encountered in Canada. In fact, the richest person I know is a black doctor of pathology who lives in a mansion with a wife and has seven daughters. My wife is close friends with his wife and she is the godmother of our 4th child.

      Of course, that is anecdotal. People typically point at statistical discrepancies when calling out systemic racism or sexism. The idea being if there are inequalities in medium income or top 100 CEOs, etc..., then there must be systemic racism or sexism, as though that were the only cause that could possibly explain the differences. I would grant that it could be one cause among many.... but to be the only cause? That seems overly simplistic and binary. People are far more complex than that. And even if I do have some sort of white privilege, is that something that I'm morally culpable for? Or is it just an accident of my place in history? And am I responsible for the crimes committed against black slaves in the US when my own family history contains no hint of owning slaves or of even having paid servants because they were poor?

      Plus, it seems to me that different races tend to fall on different spots on comparative statistical spectrums. For example, Asian people academically tend to score higher than blacks, Hispanics, and whites. Is there a systemic bias in favour of them? Or is it simply that they work harder to achieve those grades? Not sure where Indian folks fall in these statistics.

      And with regard to police shootings, if there is systemic racism against blacks, then whites would be in a position to claim the same, since they have a larger portion of police shootings (though granted, not as a percentage of population). On this logic, racism could be claimed against whites, blacks, and Hispanics in favor of Asians who fall the lowest on the proportion of police shootings. Perhaps there is systemic racism in favor of Asians! This is an argument ad absurdam, of course. I'm just trying to illustrate that arguing from statistical evidence to one single cause is overly myopic.

      Delete
    5. "There are more black people doing labor in prison than there were in slavery in 1850" - you are aware that the population of the USA has increased nearly fifteenfold since 1850, right? If there are 15 times as many people (presumably including 15 times as many blacks), then it shouldn't be a surprise that there are more people (in absolute numbers) in prison now than there were enslaved back then. That, by itself, doesn't provide proof of racism.

      Delete
    6. Daniel,

      From bitter experience I can tell you that the vast majority of CRT theorists do not care about and will not listen to your reason. It is a good argument, but they are devoted to a fideistic religion that actively discourages them from paying any attention to opposing arguments, or reason in general. After all, Reason is simply one more of "the Master's tools", a henchman of the White Devil. In their minds, the existence and widespread malign power of White Supremacy is a given, a truth of the Faith never to be questioned. Facts only count if they agree with and support these truths - those that complicate or contradict them are to be ignored as the lies of heretics.

      Delete
    7. Merely spitting out statistics is not an argument. To get an actual argument, you need to *interpret* the statistics. Merely showing that minority groups have, say, under-representation in high-paying fields is not by itself proof of racism - for that, you would need to show that racist hiring practices are the only (or at least the best) explanation for these differences, and not some smoothie of other complicated factors. To turn your argument back on you, your very own source shows that Asians are massively over-represented in high-paying jobs in the US. Does this mean that there's massive amounts of pro-Asian racism in America?

      Delete
    8. Hi Cantus,

      Well, perhaps there are folks not so biased in their opinions that a discussion is possible. Maybe Talmid has some thoughts to contribute, as I was responding to his post more than anything.

      Delete
    9. Oh, and one more thing: Unknown has been unusually forthright and honest in displaying how he will immediately and uncritically swallow any accusation whatsoever about a person he already dislikes. Admittedly, this is a tendency we all have, but that doesn't make it any less unfair.

      Delete
    10. Well, it's no surprise to me. Unknown, Papalinton, and those of their ilk are incredibly credulous thinkers. One needs only look at how they structure their arguments in terms of appeals to authority or appeals to popularity. To them, if an idea is popular or receives support from the FBI or the CIA, then it MUST be true, regardless of any logical arguments. This sadly makes their arguments stale, repetitive, and (most damning of all) utterly unconvincing. They then follow it up with hurling moral invective at you for disagreeing with them.

      Would it be too much to ask for self-reflection.

      Delete
    11. @Daniel

      That is a good point. In a society there is the majority way of doing things and you usually have to integrate if you want to succeed in that society. As someone who is from outside but aways consumed a lot of american media, it seems clear to me that blacks there have their own culture and that integrating on the white majority is not that easy. That sure does not help they.

      I don't think that i have more to say. Just reforcing the epistemological point made here several times: there are aways several ways to explain a fact on this world of sense, so if you want to defend that the data shows that x is true you better SHOW that x is the best explanation of the data. I'am suprised that the "science good" people fail to understand something so simple.

      Delete
    12. Agreed. And I think that fits one of Ed's markers for gnosticism.

      Delete
  15. 'White supremacist' is a meaningless term, it's just a racial slur.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's like saying Nazi is a racial slur. What's the matter? Afraid the label would apply to you and if you are then maybe you might have some reflection to do.

      Delete
    2. Well said, Papalinton. Feser was writing well until he went hard right and started blathering about the Left.

      You are indeed correct: The FBI has said our greatest threat is from the extreme right.And they are used by others to further a right wing political and economic agenda .But you cannot reason with them. Some of them still believe Biden stole the election. And let's not forget Feser's disgraceful November blog in which he questioned the legitimacy of Biden's win.

      Yes, the Catholic Church has lost much of its relevancy in the U.S. It has practically none in Europe. Pope Francis is trying to restore some of its relevancy, but Feser and others like him try to paint him as a heretic. They live in their own fantasy world.

      Delete
    3. I'm somewhat contented with Dr Feser peddling the right-wing agenda for the CHURCH as I do surmise such support will ultimately press the CHURCH out of the public square. Civic-minded people are not fools to the ruse of reactionary right-wing religious thinking.

      I don't think there is any path back for the Catholic Church, since the international clerical kiddie-fingering debacle. And no matter how much Dr Feser and adherents for the cause contort the truth, by far the largest number of people are not silly or naive about the role of Church cover-up and disinformation.

      Delete
    4. That's like saying Nazi is a racial slur.

      That's a good example. 'Nazi', as it is used in the vast majority of cases today (i.e., not referring in the historical sense to a member of the German political party prior to and during WWII) is a meaningless slur that's useful mainly as an insult.

      Delete
    5. Yes, Ian is right. I have unironically heard people call Jordan Peterson a Nazi, even though he is a very mild libertarian. "Nazi", when thrown around in anything but a historical context, is pretty much synonymous with "doody-head" at this point. It no longer has any substantive meaning and is merely an attempt to provoke Pavlovian reactions of guilt and shock that were appropriate back when the term had not been so degraded.

      Delete
    6. "Nazi", "White Supremacist", and the like are often times thrown around as general invectives to denote that someone is a bad person with dangerous ideas. Rarely are these ideas dealt with adequately.

      Delete
  16. "The greatest identified threat in the US at this time is not from the left, never had been over many decades. Every American security and intelligence agency, department and bureau have over the last decade, and even throughout the whole of Trump's four disastrous years, had identified the threat emanating from the right, ultra right-wing, conservative, white supremacist Facism."

    Rightwing extremists are just a very extremely small number of people who are just extremely effective with their actions.

    Their ideology is not popular, its not consuming various social, political, and educational institutions.

    Right-wing extremism come in the form of singular deep cuts. The Critical Social Justice movement is a death by 1000 tiny cuts.

    "Eric Voegelin's piece is the bleating voice of those who have been rightly marginalised by the great swath of humanity looking for a better, more inclusive, diverse, friendly accepting society more reflectively representative of the wonderfully multicultural and ethnically diverse communities that are today's models."

    Ok dude, you seem to hit all the propaganda terms with this sentence. The same people who spout this stuff were the same people who had "Uncle Tim" trending on twitter in response to Tim Scott's speech.

    These same people wont just disown, but will actively try to destroy the life of even their own family members for opposing their agenda.

    If your diversity and inclusion is only skin deep, but everything you disagree with is deemed absolute evil, its just masquerading as diversity and inclusion. If your multi-culturalism is basically just different diets and fashion, then it's really just masquerading as such. Funnily enough, those who most loudly speak of wanting diversity and inclusion are the same ones who are most obsessed with making everyone conform to their will, and they will have no qualms with making sure the cult sees you as absolute evil to achieve it.

    ReplyDelete
  17. The idea that the world ought to change, and conform to an “idea” or truth, is not the invention of liberal or socialist utopians. It is also the Christian view.

    St. Augustine discussed these issues at length, and the Thomistic view was not opposed to his. He did not necessarily associate civil society and government with the city of Man. But it was not the city of God either, even if its end, properly realised, was in agreement with it. He thought civil society was subject to tendencies due to original sin and wasn’t generally optimistic about how it would work out. This is not determinism of any kind. It is a Christian realism that recognises that although mankind is good, like the rest of creation, fallen nature will affect the way society exists. There is no presumption that it will naturally develop as it should. As often as not, what society has developed locally and over time is in conflict with universal principles to which it ought to conform.

    The notion that the world will naturally produce the ideal reality is a kind of determinism first popularised by conservatives. This sense of determinateness is compatible with the determinism leading to the future utopia of the socialists, the main difference being that the ideal reality is in the present, not the future. Enlightenment liberalism, on the other hand, proposed an absolute set of values, not determined by history, to which society had to conform. This indeterminateness is shared by Christianity, the all-important difference being that its truths are not man-made like those of liberalism.

    ReplyDelete
  18. WCB

    https://www.ncronline.org/news/parish/support-trump-within-church-has-driven-some-catholics-exits

    National Catholic Reporter

    Support of Trump within church has driven some Catholics to the exits

    ...

    Adam Gabbatt, in a recent piece in The Guardian, cites studies indicating that a rise in extremism from the religious right is driving people away from religion itself. Gabbatt quotes David Campbell, chair of the department of political science at the University of Notre Dame:

    "Many Americans — especially young people — see religion as bound up with political conservatism, and the Republican party specifically," Campbell said.

    "Since that is not their party, or their politics, they do not want to identify as being religious. Young people are especially allergic to the perception that many — but by no means all — American religions are hostile to LGBTQ rights."
    Writing for Business Insider, Kelsey Vlamis reported in November 2020 that young people were leaving their churches because of Trump. Vlamis spoke with Michael Wear, once a faith adviser to President Barack Obama, who had talked with many young Christians on college campuses. According to Wear, the "Access Hollywood" tape was a factor for many Christians re-assessing their place in their religious communities.

    Wear reported that Christians of all ages told him they could no longer enjoy some of the most basic aspects of their religious communities, like coffee after church and small-group discussions, because of the new divisions.
    ...

    There seems to be among a few here a rather very conservative viewpoint on politics. Which won't impress a lot of people, especially younger people. The turn for the worst in conservative politics with the rise of Trump seems to play a large part in the rise on Nones, and people leaving churches in large numbers.

    WCB


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems to me looking at the trends in Us political oppinion and religiosity, especially as applied to the young, that the culture wars will be won by our side through sheer force of numbers. Either abortion - appropriately regulated - will remain legal or it will not, and ditto for trans/gay rights, seperation of church and state etc . To end, the culture wars need to be won decisively by one side, and I would suggest that this is going to happen.

      Delete
    2. Citing the National Catholic Fishwrap as a source? They're a liberal, dissident rag that openly proclaims heterodoxy. And the Guardian is even worse.

      Delete
    3. Also, if LGBTQVWXYZ activism were the path to Church growth, then the Anglicans and Episcopalians would be thriving rather than nearly-extinct.

      Delete
    4. Cantus

      Hey Cantus cut it out - i'm a Guardian reader!

      Oh how hilarious you must think yourself writing LGBTQVWXYZ - never seen that done before! The fact is though, your stance on matters of sex and sexuality are one of the primary things that make you appear utterly ridiculous and archaic to young people, and this will accellerate your demise ( assisted by the kiddie fiddling proclivities of a section of your clergy and the church cover up of course ).

      Delete
    5. Yawn. Pat yourself on the back and keep telling yourself about how doomed we are. I don't care, and your comment is tiresome and unoriginal. The one thing I have to say is that you are startlingly myopic if you presume that *your* liberal attitudes about sex and sexuality are sure to rule the future. They are held by a minority of the world's population (a very white and Western minority at that, which I'm sure matters to you), and would have been considered insane by nearly everyone in history, from at least 1990 backwards. Their grip is wide, nowadays, but it is much more fragile than you think. The only way you could think it universally accepted would be if you only looked at America and Western Europe.

      Delete
    6. Plus, don't be so sure that the young will forever be on your side. Generation Z is still very liberal, but everyone is at their age, and they are less liberal than their parents were at their age. Given the known fact that people get more conservative over time, plus the West's declining birthrates, and time may be against you, rather than on your side.

      Delete
  19. So Feser thinks it's primarily the Left that abuses Twitter? Has he forgotten all the lies, disinformation, slander, vitriol and vulgarity that the disgraced FORMER president spewed out over four years on his Twitter account? And how, when he was booted out by the voters, he took to Twitter to rouse his deranged followers to "stop the steal," which led to the insurrection of January 6, for which he was impeached? Feser seems have forgotten the worst Twitter abuser there ever was.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The longer one is a writer, the more deeply one learns that many people simply don't know how to read.

      I explicitly said that right-wingers and left-wingers alike have been guilty of the sins I associated with Twitter. But when we turn to the question of whether there is a connection between a certain kind of ideology (as opposed to the failings of an individual person's character) that fits hand in glove with the dangers of social media platforms, I argued that it is a particular sort of left-wing view -- namely, CRT -- that stands out.

      An intelligent response would be to try to show how some equally influential right-of-center ideological position (rather than the personality of this or that individual) has aspects that parallel the CRT ones I have been critical of. But I realize that some people would prefer to spend the rest of their lives repeatedly working themselves up into a lather over Donald Trump.

      Delete
    2. An intelligent response would be to try to show how some equally influential right-of-center ideological position... has aspects that parallel the CRT ones I have been critical of.

      And before anyone says "What about QAnon?" keep in mind that:

      1. In the article linked to in my post above, I myself explicitly identified QAnon as having Gnostic tendencies similar to those I attribute to CRT. However:

      2. I don't think QAnon is plausibly characterized as an ideological position, but rather as a crackpot conspiracy theory, which is not the same thing. And it's probably now a spent force, since the big event it predicted ("the Storm") never happened. Ideological positions have a much more general and theoretical character that makes them less susceptible of direct refutation by particular concrete facts and events.

      Delete
    3. Dr.Feser
      Just Google "Trump says Twitter favors the Left
      He's Wrong." And so are you about Twitter.



      Delete
    4. A NBC Opinion Piece? Oh, what immense argumentative force! I'm sure the opinion of one NBC writer totally outweighs the fact that they BANNED THE SITTING PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. You know, the sort of thing that could very seriously be considered as political suppression and interference in the running of the political system. Plus the fact that when people get banned off of Twitter, it's almost exclusively conservatives. You never see a Liberal getting banned from Twitter for putting out their political opinions.

      PS: You could have at least gone to the effort of posting the link to the article yourself. Not doing so just makes you look incredibly lazy.

      Delete
    5. More than that, if I were Anonymous, I would've tried to summarize the article's point in my own words rather than just lazily pointing to a news article that's easily dismissed. I could come up with a better argument against Feser's point here.

      I could argue, for instance, that the isolated echo chambers on the Internet cause some extremely online individuals on the radical right to lather themselves into a frenzy, daring each other to take on more extreme positions to prove their loyalty to the cause. Then, one person says "Screw the optics, I'm going in!" And then, that person shoots up a supermarket full of Mexicans in the name of "accelerationist eco-fascism" or whatever Internet ideology he's been indoctrinated into.

      That's an example of an argument from a Leftist I could respond to intelligently.

      Delete
  20. WCB

    Young people are not joining churches and dropping out of organized religion in large numbers. Meanwhile, many of the members of the RCC are older people, and will be dying off rapidly over time. Recent surveys show now only 47% self f identify with a church, and many of those rarely attend any. Any wins in this culture war of the far right will, over time be rolled back, as the younger generation who hate those things replace the older generation. We now have a Supreme court that just announce the right wing justices will no long be bound to respect long standing legal settled law. Now we have an activist far right court. This is a recipe for revolt and a long term counter culture war. with 6 of these newly activist right wing judges being Catholic, the RCC is going to be dragged into a bitter culture war starting now and long term, this will be a Pyrrhic victory. Be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it.

    WCB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WCB-

      At this point I have to conclude that it's part of a deliberate strategy on your part that, whenever someone argues against something you said, that you simply say it again louder, and pretend that nobody ever responded to you. And what the hell are you talking about, "right wing justices will no long be bound to respect long standing legal settled law?". Activist far-right court? I wish. The Supreme Court is utterly cowed by the threat of court-packing - they won't even take up cases relating to the legality of guns seizures without a warrant, something that contradicts the plain meaning of the Second Amendment. Honestly, the Court should not even be partisan - it should be defanged so that neither side can use it as de facto legislature.

      Delete
    2. Cantus
      I'll give your lazy brain more work to do: Google "Politico Conservatives Dominate Social Media."

      Delete
    3. WCB

      Stare Decis is the long time doctrine that the Supreme court takes settled case law seriously and does not overturn long settled law without very strong reasons for doing so. Recently, some conservative members of the SC are trying to move that court to adopt a weaker version of stare decis. Paving the way to become an activist supreme court. The right has long bellowed about "Activist judges!". Here we see conservatives on the court moving to become activist judges.

      https://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3871&context=wmlr

      JANUS
      -FACED JUDGING: HOW THE SUPREME COURT IS
      RADICALLY WEAKENING STARE DECISIS


      WCB

      Delete
    4. @Cantus

      >At this point I have to conclude that it's part of a deliberate strategy on your part that, whenever someone argues against something you said, that you simply say it again louder, and pretend that nobody ever responded to you.

      That is in fact his MO. He does it over at Strange Notions and he did that over at David Armstrong's blog till Dave banned him.

      He is troll and not a very bright one. He is just persistent.

      Delete
    5. Son of

      Yo there Son of ! How's the giant cosmic megachicken diddling? Has it been riding its bike recently?

      Delete
  21. @ Lazy / Unknown

    Will you perchance get around to familiarising us with your preferred ethical system, rationally held by you, along with its metaethical justification?

    This is a repeated request. You view Catholic accounts of morality (natural and revealed) as ridiculous, and identify certain issues, as LGBTQ etc. rights, as most worthy of consideration.

    These judgements only make sense if they are made on the basis of some intelligible account, so please present it.

    This is all the more apposite given your stated opposition to views that are not provisionally held. Allow us partake of your provisions.

    Nota bene, even your appeals to majority opinion in the developed world or whatever implicitly presuppose such an account. "Developed" only makes sense in terms of some target goals, and the same goes for "progress".

    Without an objective ethical account behind it, your attitude appears to be a mere prejudice, if sincerely and passionately held.

    And because the "developing world" majorities seem to share many Catholic moral stances you view with such scorn, the prejudice in question can appear to be, well, Western-supremacist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Thomas. But I fear that even I, the "white supremacist" (lol), could make better leftist arguments than they could.

      Delete
    2. If this Unknown is the brit that believes in classical theism, them i think that i remember he saying that he is not a moral realist on that discussion envolving the ex-catholic-now-sort-perenialist guy(sorry, can't remember your name).

      Delete
    3. Gavisus

      In response to your smug and patronising inquiry, I am of the oppinion that morality is an outgrowth of human psychology and is therefore ultimately subjective, though of course our shared nature as evolved social animals allows us to reach much basic agreement over time and space. The basic human emotions upon which morality is based - guilt, shame, loyalty, affection etc - emerged in our distant evolutionary past in circumstances very different from today, but now the situation is much more complicated because of the influence of religious belief systems, political ideologies, philosophy and the emergence of 'moral tribes', assisted by the advent of rapid communications and the internet.

      So to summarise, I subscribe to an 'error theory' in metaethics, which is the view that the ordinary user of moral language is making a mistake in assuming the objective nature of that about which they speak, however sincerely that view is held.

      Despite the above intellectual, philosophical position, we humans are social animals and have to rub along together, so there is the inescapable practical problem of how we are to organise our societies and legal systems.

      My own take on the above, shared by vast numbers of others, is that we should reject contentious and highly proscriptive religious belief systems as a guide, and harness and encourage positive human emotions and tendencies such as sympathy, empathy and a desire for fairness, in order to build a world where the freedoms and opportunities of all in maximised ( though in a complex world and for logical reasons this will inevitably involve caveats and trade-offs ). There is obviously no compulsion for you or anyone else to support this project of course.

      I am very pragmatic about taking each
      moral issue as it arises and debating how it should be resolved , and do not require an over-arching proscriptive theory in order to do this, and neither does anyone else other than stunted intellectual types like yourself. Ultimately, how the tension between your views and more liberal ones will play out is a question of how social and political struggle will intersect with changes occurring 'naturally' within society, and not one of what competing tribes of philosophers have
      to say to each other in the seminar room.

      Very many people reading this blog will not be convinced of the correctness of Thomist ethical theory and Christianity ( let alone Catholicism ), or believe that it should be foistered on others even if true, and will find your positions on a whole range of issues deeply reactionary, repressive and unfair. I would appeal to all these people to get involved in the practical, pragmatic, activist project of moving to a less dogmatic, fairer and more inclusive world , constructed through cooperation and struggle, and to relegate the demon haunted world to history.

      Delete
    4. @ Lazy / Unknown

      "In response to your smug and patronising inquiry, <...>"

      It wasn't, or at least wasn't meant to be smug or patronising; it's just that I'd asked you about this at least two times already, and you ignored the query before.

      Thank you for your response!

      "My own take on the above, shared by vast numbers of others, is that we should reject contentious and highly proscriptive religious belief systems as a guide, and harness and encourage positive human emotions and tendencies such as sympathy, empathy and a desire for fairness, in order to build a world where the freedoms and opportunities of all in maximised ( though in a complex world and for logical reasons this will inevitably involve caveats and trade-offs ). There is obviously no compulsion for you or anyone else to support this project of course."

      According to the metaethical theory that you've referenced above, as I understand it, the "should" above is a mistake, as is the use of "positive" (this just denotes your approval, which is ethical, given the context), "order" (this can only refer to a configuration which you approve morally), "fairness" (this seems to refer to nothing but a consistent distribution of benefits and duties that you approve of), "freedoms" and "opportunities" (meaning unhindered access to courses of action you approve of), nor do we "have to" rub along together, in the relevant sense.

      "I am very pragmatic about taking each
      moral issue as it arises and debating how it should be resolved , and do not require an over-arching proscriptive theory in order to do this, and neither does anyone else other than stunted intellectual types like yourself. "

      What this seems to translate into, given your commitments, is that you're very pragmatic about getting things you happen to want, and your desires are not informed by knowledge, per se.

      Delete
    5. Needless to say, the recurring characterisation of Thomists (and now me personally) as "stunted" is actually a normative judgement about our failure to reach the proper developmental goal, and hence also probably a mistake. (I suppose this instance can be taken to be medical, but you don't seem to have any peculiar competence in (developmental) psychology, nor sufficient knowledge of your interlocutors here, so I assume you wouldn't abuse a medical term like that; this is abstracting from the fact that "health" is a normative and a teleogical notion).

      "Very many people reading this blog will not be convinced of the correctness of Thomist ethical theory and Christianity ( let alone Catholicism ), or believe that it should be foistered on others even if true, and will find your positions on a whole range of issues deeply reactionary, repressive and unfair."

      The "should" is a mistake, and the same goes for "deeply reactionary" (that is, opposed to the progress (a mistake) made), "repressive" (assuming you don't view prosecution of crimes, say, to be repressive, in the relevant sense, this is also a mistake), "unfair" (a mistake: see above).

      So what this means is that, according to you, very many people will make a lot of mistakes regarding Catholic morals. I concur; what is less clear is if the majority of Westerners recognise ethical judgements to be, by their very nature, mistakes.

      Given this and the focus your posting assumed, the prominent place moral issues occupy in it, this also means that, on your own terms, you're nowhere near objective when it comes to Catholicism or Thomism (at least when it comes to natural law and/or apologetic issues, as you do not want these to succeed): your attitude is determined by emotions and reliably occasions a lot of mistakes, and your conclusions are only "provisional" to the extent you exert control over your emotions and desires.

      If you're at all interested in discussions on this blog, as you seem to be, this is a very clear instance of very potent bias you need to recognise as such, and somehow combat.

      Unless, of course, all you're after is manipulating people reading this into making the same mistakes and hence wanting the same things that you want.

      Delete
    6. Gavison

      Dear me, that was a remarkably pompous contribition even by your standards, especially the second paragraph which was - unintentionally i'm sure - absolutely hilarious.

      Needless to say, I do not remotely agree with how you have typified things, but I am not willing to write screeds dissecting it all. You requested a statement of my metaethical position and i provided it, that is all.

      To repeat, if morality is a human creation, deriving ultimately from our evolved psychology as a social species, that still leaves us with the problem of how to organise the world , which cannot be ducked. There are different views about this, which will be fought over in various ways - philosophically by academics in their ivory towers, seminar rooms and journals, rhetorically and emotionally in ordinary discourse and politically on the streets and in work places by activists for example. 'Moral' change is a matter of arriving at a new consensus or understanding, and frequently involves intense and protracted sociopolitical struggle to achieve. I am in a completely different 'moral tribe' to you, rejecting supernaturalistic ethics and seeking to establish a secular world where ethics is conducted pragmatically in the spirit of human solidarity , and not in accordance with a highly proscriptive Thomist/RC rule book. The transitions are ultimately sociopolitical and psychological in nature, though they are fought out rhetorically and ideologically.

      My job as an adherent of an incommensurable perspective to yours is to to do everything possible to undermine, subvert and ultimately destroy and eclipse it.

      Delete
    7. Gavison

      CORRECTION - The unintentionally hilarious paragraph was the first one, not the second.

      Delete
    8. Gavison

      That is, the first paragraph of your second post!

      Delete
    9. @ Lazy

      "Needless to say, I do not remotely agree with how you have typified things"

      Why won't you? I simply interpreted all of the morally loaded words in your comment in light of your basic commitments. However, I realise such an interpretation leaves the relevant comments absolutely entirely devoid of rhetorical power, so I suppose I can guess the reason already.

      "My job as an adherent of an incommensurable perspective to yours is to to do everything possible to undermine, subvert and ultimately destroy and eclipse it."

      So your activities here are, basically, of a terrorist nature. That, and/or you really like to emote about other peoples' views that you find unpleasant.

      I'm really sorry to be reading this, Lazy, as this means you're "arguing" in bad faith, and are indeed committed to influencing people in subrational ways, and readers need to be aware of this and take it into consideration.

      I do hope, however, that you will keep this bias of yours in mind, as surely, upon such an understanding of morality, the fact that our morals are not to your liking means absolutely nothing in terms of their basis in reality.

      As this blog is dedicated to arguing for moral realism in metaethics and the preambles of faith, among other things, I hope you'll realise that you need to prevent your admitted prejudice from interfering with your appraisal of the arguments in their favour.

      Delete
    10. Unknown at 1.04AM

      This is a very good synopsis of the relational nature of morality. It is the participatory foundation on which moral practices are established and refined and improved as community change to meet the challenges of maintaining good order and safe neighbours going forward.

      "Humans have a moral sense because their biological makeup determines the presence of three necessary conditions for ethical behavior: (i) the ability to anticipate the consequences of one's own actions; (ii) the ability to make value judgments; and (iii) the ability to choose between alternative courses of action." Collins English Dictionary.

      God-made objective morality is theological spin. Whatever believers think is Christian-specific morality is simply appropriation a much older human moral code and, like Trump, branded as its own. History shows the Christian moral code is an amalgam of previous codes from the Hittites, Mesopotamians, etc.

      In these days of cultural diversity, far better to stick with the dictionary definition than any parochial religious invention.

      Delete
    11. Papalinton

      Thomists like to argue that their ethical theory can stand by itself without the backdroop of a proscriptive God who cares about our behaviour and will punish unforgiven transgressions, at least negatively through the withholding of the beatific vision. This is nonesense of course, as without this backdrop their scheme can simply be ignored.

      Take the use to which I put my todger for example. I can use my intellience to see that it is particularly suited to procreation in oppose to hearing, fighting off assailants and digging holes for example ( especially when ejaculating! ), but if I am told that its use outside of a teleological context is wrong, I am perfectly at liberty to say ' says you, under a stipulative definition of immorality,but I have no compulsion or indeed inclination to accept that so please go away and stop preaching to me you tedious person'. This observation applies quite generally to their scheme of course, which only has any bite when coupled with a supernatural threat. When people stop believing in this threat they are hardly likely to allow their lives to be governed by Thomist stipulations.

      Delete
    12. @ Papalinton

      Collins English in a discussion of metaethics. Seriously?
      Is there a limit to your facetiousness?

      For moral practices to be objectively "refined" and "improved", having "good order", there has to be a higher objective standard. The Unknown/Lazy Anonymous, to his great credit, at least admitted that he's a moral nominalist.

      So I ask you again: what is the objective morality that we put a theological spin on*, that you, let us suppose, rely upon (in your endless sermonising), and how would demonstrate its truth to us?

      After you enlighten us in this respect, I would certainly appreciate a demonstration of moral genealogy of, say, the Beatitudes from the Hittites, specifically.

      Then perhaps we should examine the Mitanni, and, I don't know, Amorite Babylon?.. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

      First things first.

      *Given the largely natural law focus of this blog, this bit is somewhat odd, but whatever.

      Delete
    13. @ Lazy

      "This is nonesense of course, as without this backdrop their scheme can simply be ignored"

      Would you bother to demonstrate how the "nonsense" follows from the mere fact that humans, provided they're willing, can ignore the commands of reason?

      If a doctor tells you to stop doing heroin, you can, of course, decline to follow her advice, and an addict probably would, but, provided we can demonstrate enough metaethics to claim that there's a real reason (a true instance of final causality) not to do it, to the extent the drug use is voluntary, this course of action would be objectively immoral.

      Delete
    14. Tosser Gaviscus

      Since you insist on labelling me with the pejorative label 'lazy', I have invented one for you too. A bit coarser and more crass perhaps, but these things are subjective.

      I am stunned by the stupidity of what you have just claimed, but before coming to that would you please stop equivocating by using words in a moral sense when that is not how they were intended. Papalintron can very ably defend himself ( though for easily imaginable and completely understandable reasons he often declines to ), but I would suggest that when he talks about communities refining and improving their moral practices over time he was not thinking of this in relation to an absolute moral backdrop that was being slowly discovered and worked towards. You used the same tactic earlier against me.

      With regards to your example at 7.54AM, the biologically dangerous or even deadly effects of a toxin or narcotic substance can be established with great accuracy, and all relevant experts will agree about this. When it comes to human 'moral' behaviour though, reason does not command anything, and if you have persuaded yourself that the most 'apt' use of reproductive organs is to reproduce, that carries with it no stipulation as to what we ought to do with them in practice - I am perfectly free to masterbate for example without ill effect ( other than in the minds of Thomists and other busybodies who will no doubt get very upset that I have broken one of their rules ). This contrasts markedly with what would happen if I swallowed arsenic for example, which would be incontravertable and plain for all to see.

      If you define morality in the way you do, then of course behaviours X, Y and Z will be immoral. Trouble is, we have absolutely no reason to care about or adopt your definition, and you just end up labelling everyday and often desirable things like masterbation and artificial contraception as being great evils, and so appearing to most of us as if you had taken leave of your mind. This is a good thing though, as it means that when people are not indoctrinated into religious belief systems and have the choice they simply ignore you. And before you start equivocating and give me another lecture about it, I used the word 'good' there in the sense of 'instrumental', so I do not require the existance of an objective moral order for it to make sense.

      Delete
    15. Unknown,

      So what is good for you consists of whatever gets you whatever you happen to want, without regard for whether it's good for you? That explains a lot. But your argument refutes itself. In your worldview, there's objectively nothing wrong with a Thomistic moral busybody. After all, what if I happen to like Thomism and think that it should be implemented just because? If you are correct then my desires are no less important than yours. Why should a political order cater to your desire to masturbate instead of my desire to shame those who do so? Lurking behind your apparent moral subjectivism is a moral principle of pro-autonomy - that the best society is one that maximizes the freedom to do whatever one wishes to the fullest extent, and that this is intrinsically good.

      More than that, your moral subjectivism is self-refuting in another way. If the difference between good and bad is determined merely by what helps fulfill your desires, then so is the difference between good reasons and bad reasons so determined. But then, you've just destroyed objectivity in reasoning. By that standard, I can say your reasoning is bad (because it doesn't fulfill my desire) and my reasoning is good (because it does fulfill my desire). If the difference between good reasoning and bad reasoning is objective, then why can't the difference between good and bad in other contexts be like that too? The Thomistic position on this is that the difference between good and bad things is whether they fulfill their purpose or not. If reason's purpose is to pursue truth and goodness, a good reason will do so and a bad reason will not do so. Similarly, if the purpose of life is to pursue godliness, then good life will do so and a bad life will not do so. Morality would follow from there. Of course, I'm not trying to prove right now that the Thomistic position is correct (though it is). I'm saying that it's much better than yours in that it's not manifestly self-refuting.

      I mean, if you want to know the negative effects of masturbation, we can point to the daughters of lust: blindness of mind, rashness, thoughtlessness, inconstancy, self-love, hatred of God, love of this world, and despair of a future world. Each of these consequences stems from the natural consequences of engaging in unhealthy, lustful behaviors. You don't have to be a Thomist to recognize that sexual lust makes you dumb.

      Delete
    16. Geocon

      I am very busy and not willing to spend endless time debating inanities with you. To reply properly to what you have just said would take a very long time, but suffice to say that I consider much of it to be specious in the extreme and full of non sequitor. You will no doubt see this as an admission of defeat on my part, in which case, so be it. It must be a huge mystery to you though how Thomism can be such a minority ethical position among professional philosophers specialising in ethics, when it is so obviously correct and does not require a theological backdrop. If these claims were true it would obviously be more mainstream.

      Before signing off though I would like to invite anyone reading this to check out your final paragraph again, in which you list the myriad supposed perils of masterbation as if lifted from some Victorian manual. Could I suggest to the very many people who read it that thos clearly establishes that we are dealing with a crank.

      Delete
    17. @ Hardworking Anonymous

      I kept using the term "Lazy" due to the convenience of having a name to refer to you (and maybe gently prodding you to adopt one of your choosing). As you didn't seem to mind, I though it an endearing nickname, but, as you now object, I will stop using it.
      Please accept my apologies.

      "I am stunned by the stupidity of what you have just claimed, but before coming to that would you please stop equivocating by using words in a moral sense when that is not how they were intended."

      What is it that I have claimed, beg your pardon?

      And how, precisely, am I supposed to know what Papalinton intends to communicate? He directs his sermons at the population of this blog, most of whom are Thomists and Catholics, and so are moral realists. It stands to reason that terms with moral connotations are to be understood accordingly, don't you think?

      If Papalinton comes out as a moral nominalist, I will withdraw my request/consider it answered, as in your case. I'd very much like him to provide clarity, so I can direct readers to that comment so they know the (empty) sermonising to be precisely that, or discuss his preferred account, which would be of actual philosophical interest.

      “You used the same tactic earlier against me.”

      No, I did not. Your metaethical position is not at all the default one, not in the world out there, not even among secularists, and certainly not here.

      As you yourself said when describing your metaethics, “the ordinary user of moral language is making a mistake in assuming the objective nature of that about which they speak, however sincerely that view is held.”

      So no, I'm not equivocating, I'm merely assuming ordinary use of moral language.

      In fact, your rhethoric only makes sense if we make what you consider to be a mistake. If we translate, say, “LGBT rights” into “what Hardworking Anonymous wants for LGBT people”, any power this term has dissipates. I couldn't care less what an anonymous person on the Internet wants or doesn't want, per se, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that; you yourself are clearly unmoved by our desires, considered as such.

      Delete
    18. This is also the reason I translated all of the instances of morally loaded terms in your previous comments, apart from desiring to highlight how much of your posting involves entirely subjective judgements and “mistakes”.

      “With regards to your example at 7.54AM, the biologically dangerous or even deadly effects of a toxin or narcotic substance can be established with great accuracy, and all relevant experts will agree about this."

      The comparison meant to show that non-compliance shows precisely nothing. Therapeutic non-compliance is a serious issue in health care.

      As experts they can agree on things being dangerous and deadly, but not “morally bad”, as that is outside their expertise. To convert “deadly” into “morally bad/undesirable” you would need an additional premise: “dying is bad”.

      Delete
    19. “When it comes to human 'moral' behaviour though, reason does not command anything, and if you have persuaded yourself that the most 'apt' use of reproductive organs is to reproduce, that carries with it no stipulation as to what we ought to do with them in practice - I am perfectly free to masterbate for example without ill effect ( other than in the minds of Thomists and other busybodies who will no doubt get very upset that I have broken one of their rules ).”

      This is question-begging, at least on this blog. You see, Dr. Feser and Thomists actually argue for the existence of practical reason and our ability to discover final causes in reality, as well as specific moral judgements, like the condemnation of masturbation on the basis of the perverted faculty argument. This has been done at book-length and multiple times over the years.

      According to the A-T tradition of natural law, we can discover the final cause of the rational appetite that we call the will, that is, formally, “things worth doing” or “that which there is real reason to do”, on the basis of, among other things, the evident reality of the psychological inability of a sane human to pursue a course of action they deem not worth pursuing. We find out what these are through further analysis of human nature. Some, like taking arsenic, are more intuitively bad, as we are, by default, very much motivated to keep on living, but there's no reason to expect the same degree of intuitiveness in every case.

      “If you define morality in the way you do, then of course behaviours X, Y and Z will be immoral. Trouble is, we have absolutely no reason to care about or adopt your definition,”

      If we are right, there is reason to care, if final causes of human powers do exist, at least, as they quite literally * are * reasons for action, and so acting contrary to them is unreasonable, due to, again, what you are, objectively.

      So if you were to ask for a reason, we'd give you one, and if you were to fail to heed it, it would be of no consequence for the reason itself.

      Delete
    20. Gavisus

      Suppose that final causes of human powers exist for sake of argument and that they are reasons for action, so that acting contrary to them is unreasonable. I still do not see why we should make this the basis of our ethics, or why acting contrary to the reasons should be seen as 'evil'. This seems to me to be fetishising a rule, with no regard at all for wider considerations. Attractive for the obsessive who delights in order perhaps, but not for everyone else.

      So suppose you Thomists explained to me how my using a condom would be contrary to reason, and suppose for the sake of argument that you are correct. Suppose further that I do not care, and proceed to employ a condom. So I have behaved unreasonably. Why should this necessarily bother me, and why should it be of any concern to you or anyone else? I am struggling to see why how all this imposes normative constraints on us in the absence of a supernatural enforcer, which you Thomists claim is not necessary for your system to have purchase.

      Delete
    21. “It must be a huge mystery to you though how Thomism can be such a minority ethical position among professional philosophers specialising in ethics, when it is so obviously correct and does not require a theological backdrop. If these claims were true it would obviously be more mainstream.”

      I can't speak for Mr. Geocon, but the reasons plausibly accounting for Thomistic natural law being a minority position in contemporary Western academia seem to be fairly obvious, and are frequently voiced by you, the Anonymous (Hero of (Socialist?) Labour): the conclusions Thomistic natural lawyers reach, as well as their association with the Catholic Church, are inimical to contemporary Western mores, governing principles and fashions, as well as the interests of many businesses.

      However, in terms of the history of moral thought, apart from Thomists, natural law (or functional equivaltents of various degrees of development/accuracy) is actually fairly common: Platonists, Aristotelians, Stoics, other Christians, Muslim thinkers, various representatives of Dharmic traditions (it's in the very word), some Taoists and Confucians as well as some Enlightenment figures all arguably relied/continue to rely, to some extent, on conceptions of it.

      Even in the West only half a century ago specifically Thomistic natural law enjoyed enough relevance to directly influence (if only partially) the framing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and people like Maritain, whatever an orthodox Thomist would think of their ideas, are widely read as part of academic curricula, even by non-ethicists like, e.g., students of jurisprudence.

      Delete
    22. "Before signing off though I would like to invite anyone reading this to check out your final paragraph again, in which you list the myriad supposed perils of masterbation as if lifted from some Victorian manual. Could I suggest to the very many people who read it that thos clearly establishes that we are dealing with a crank."

      Truly hilarious.

      Delete
    23. Unknown,

      A perfect example of your intellectual blindness: your reliance on appeal to authority-cum-majority. "The majority of people reject position X (X being Thomism, conservatism, or whatever), therefore X is wrong." Nevermind that the majority of people could possibly be wrong. This sort of reasoning is fallacious.

      Delete
    24. “Suppose that final causes of human powers exist for sake of argument and that they are reasons for action, so that acting contrary to them is unreasonable. I still do not see why we should make this the basis of our ethics, or why acting contrary to the reasons should be seen as 'evil'. This seems to me to be fetishising a rule, with no regard at all for wider considerations. Attractive for the obsessive who delights in order perhaps, but not for everyone else.”

      If ethics, at the minimum, concerns rational rules of human action, and properly human action is purposeful, what could possibly serve as the basis of our ethics, if not a correct account of actions and purposes that are reasonable?

      Please bear with me. On the privation theory of evil, “evil” simply means “not good”. On Thomistic natural law, good human actions are actions that are intelligible in terms of human teleology , and evil actions are actions that aren't.

      “What should I do”? is a question that concerns possible actions as means to achieve some goal, an activity of a human power to be employed.
      “Why should I do this?” is a question concerning a final cause (moral reason) to be achieved through the exercise of some human power/powers.

      Means only make sense in relation to ends/reasons, so if a person is not interested in reasons, as such, then they are not interested in ethics. Demanding pleasantness (or delight, as you put it) to accompany moral reasonableness is question-begging: the final cause of the will isn't pleasure, per se, nor is there a strictly necessary connexion between the two.

      A true hedonist wouldn't care, granted, but what of it? Neither would a small child resisting vaccination, or the above-mentioned drug addict. It is actually here that punishment can be of use: it can help the person so deluded reconsider the matter in terms of something they do desire or reject (pleasure and pain). Incidentally, this is why the fear of hell is only a provisional motive for abstaining from sin in Catholic asceticism: it should provide enough perspective to wean the believer off such “hedonism” and enable them to consider other motives.

      “Why should this necessarily bother me, and why should it be of any concern to you or anyone else? I am struggling to see why how all this imposes normative constraints on us in the absence of a supernatural enforcer, which you Thomists claim is not necessary for your system to have purchase. ”

      What is this question about, if not a real reason that should accordingly concern you?

      This should bother you because, as a matter of fact and objective reality and irrespective of your wishes, you're a human being, and the final cause of your appetite is real, not merely apparent, good. If this does not elicit feelings that incline one to proceed accordingly, this isn't the Thomist's fault.

      A sincere query: what does this lack in terms of normativity, and what does divine punishment add, in this respect? After all, sins are not sins *because* God punishes people for them, rather, God punishes sins because they are evil.

      Delete
    25. @ Diligent Anonymous / Unknown

      For reference, more Victorianism for your patriotic British heart, as well as enlightenment about philosophically identifiable ills of embracing lust.

      Anticipating an objection: as the Church has been dealing with human psychology for the longest time, dismissing a thousand years of consistent pastoral observations upon which the Thomistic diagnosis partly depends out of hand would be intellectually irresponsible.

      http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2019/07/psychoanalyzing-sexual-revolutionary.html

      Delete
    26. Unknown @ 9.28AM
      "It must be a huge mystery to you though how Thomism can be such a minority ethical position among professional philosophers specialising in ethics, when it is so obviously correct and does not require a theological backdrop. If these claims were true it would obviously be more mainstream."

      I couldn't have said it better myself. Thomism is indeed at the periphery of contemporary philosophical discourse on ethics and morality. The history of Thomism has been nothing short of a litany of controversy, disputation, heresy, dissension and polemical squabbling even within the Catholic orbit itself for centuries. Even as Jaques Maritain, Coppleston et al desperately attempted to resurrect Thomism in the mid-20thC after Vatican 2, it's only adherents were a few literate believers pining for the old and forgone halcyon days of Catholic hegemony. Dr Feser is one of them.
      One of the very best philosophical critiques of Thomism at the 'height' of this attempt at resuscitation was penned by renowned philosopher Kai Nelson. And this was written 70 years ago! SEE HERE

      What is most important is that this paper is not a polemic against Aquinas. As Professor Nelson makes very clear:

      "I attempted to do this in VI, but let me make it perfectly clear that I am not in the least suggesting that all is dross in Aquinas. It is abundantly clear that he is one of the great moral philosophers. Calling attention to the importance of understanding
      ourselves and our place in nature in determining what we ought to do is a permanent and useful insight of the Thomistic-Aristotelian tradition, though
      I think in connecting it with the rational commands of the Deity this insight has been badly blurred."

      In returning to your comment, Unknown, I'm reminded of a statement by Professor Robert W Funk, former Bible scholar and Chairman of the Graduate Department of Religion, Vanderbilt University:

      "If the evidence supports the historical accuracy of the gospels, where is the need for faith? And if the historical reliability of the gospels is so obvious, why have so many scholars failed to appreciate the incontestable nature of the evidence?"

      Your statement clearly reflects the underlying message of Prof Funk.

      Delete
    27. Hey Papalinton, thanks for that article! This Kai Nelson is supposed to be a smart guy and there are not much criticism of thomistic natural law, so this should be interesting!

      Delete
    28. Papalinton

      Yes, that the evidence for the ressurrection is strong and compelling is contradicted by the fact that neutral , religiously uncommitted ordinary people and those of other faiths ( not to mention biblical scholars and philosophers ) are generally not impressed by it. Similarly, professional ethicists do not gravitate to natural law theory -to put it mildly! - and generally speaking, people ( including philosophers of religion and theologens ) are not bowled over by the strength of evidence supporting the grandiose claims of the RC church, undergoing conversion as a result. Of course, goggle-eyed believers of all stripes invariably massively over-egg the evidence for their perspectives, and are puzzled and frustrated by the fact that others just ignore them and consider them dotty. It is no different here.

      I have noticed that you interact with your critics only sparingly, and that this frustrates them enormously, causing screeds of rebukes to flow your way ( Son of Ya'kov, Mr Gavison and Mr 'Taliban' Geocon in particular seem to love you very much! ). I can readily understand why this is so. Too much interaction would be very time consuming and generate little of value, so you are much better off dropping in the odd provocative and hopefully thought provoking post, something that I am fast discovering. Always remember that vastly more people will read your words than the small number who actually contribute to the threads ( from memory I believe that the blog has about 1,600 followers ), so there is every reason to post in your role as long term blog disinfectant and air freshener, even though your reception by the usual suspects is invariably hostile.

      Delete
    29. Unknown
      "I have noticed that you interact with your critics only sparingly, and that this frustrates them enormously, causing screeds of rebukes to flow your way..."

      I try to posit the argument in an open, level playing field, commenting only on issues within the broader context of philosophy. I refrain from playing the game in the mud of theology. That is their territory. I found very early on it was unproductive to chase believers down the rabbit hole of theology into that territory. No one is a winner and everyone is sullied by the experience.

      There are many issues within the Thomist framework that simply do not add up, so many assumptions and presuppositions on foundational premises that might have been felicitous in Aquinas's time. But many of those premises are no longer supported by the evidence and quite properly no longer remain unchallenged; particularly in the light of modern philosophical thinking.

      Although there was a ripple of revival when contemporary philosophers such as David Oderberg, Anthony Kenny, King, etc attempted to align Thomist scholasticism within the precepts of Analytic Philosophy; Dr Feser is touted as an analytic philosopher and neo-scholastic in the Thomist tradition; the revival remains confined to small circles:

      "Thomistic scholasticism in the English speaking world went into decline in the 1970s when the Thomistic revival that had been spearheaded by Jacques Maritain, Étienne Gilson, and others, diminished in influence.". WIKI

      Delete
    30. @ Papalinton

      "The history of Thomism has been nothing short of a litany of controversy, disputation, heresy, dissension and polemical squabbling even within the Catholic orbit itself for centuries."

      Assuming for the sake of argument you're correct in this characterisation, what is the import of this, exactly? Mutatis mutandis, you might as well be describing the history of science and philosophy.

      "One of the very best philosophical critiques of Thomism at the 'height' of this attempt at resuscitation was penned by renowned philosopher Kai Nelson. And this was written 70 years ago!"

      Thank you for referencing something of philosophical interest for a change!

      The article was written 70 ago, indeed, and it shows. In the article, Nielsen clearly considers Maritain to be a faithful interpreter of Aquinas, something quite understandable back then, when Maritain enjoyed the peak of his fame and influence, but less so now, and certainly not before that time. Maritain's specific understanding of knowledge through inclination etc. is certainly not explicitly contained in previous Thomist thinkers, and Dr. Feser's exposition of the Thomistic metaethics is markedly different*. See "Aquinas", chapter 5.


      * (There is, of course, also the question of the correctness of Nielsen's understanding of Maritain's position. Nielsen quotes “The Range of Reason”, a somewhat popular text, available at https://maritain.nd.edu/jmc/etext/range03.htm , for a sample of Maritain's views on moral epistemology / knowledge through inclination, and there Maritain makes important caveats, e.g., the bracketed portion:

      “Second: being known through inclination, the precepts of Natural Law are known in an undemonstrable manner. Thus it is that men (except when they make use of the reflective and critical disciplines of philosophy) are unable to give account of and rationally to justify their most fundamental moral beliefs <...>”

      But this is not that important).

      Delete
    31. In fact, Dr. Feser mentions Nielsen and responds to his main line of argument in the article. As Nielsen (or thinks he does) grants, arguendo, the truth of essentialism, teleological realism etc., I need not mention his objections based on his own metaphysics, arguments from the fact-value distinction, linguistics etc. (even though the arguments for these positions are made). With this in mind, the most salient point seems to be expressed in this passage :

      "Since taking a moral position necessarily involves the making of a decision, I (as a moral agent) still will have to decide and resolve to seek this end that I notice human beings in fact seek. I must make, by a moral decision,
      this purpose or end (including my purpose or end, so metaphysically defined)
      my purpose or end. But this is something I must, as a mere matter of the logic of the situation, choose or decide to do. I cannot just infer it, observe it, or grasp it by some "intellectual intuition of being." I may see or notice
      purpose in the metaphysical sense; but until I have, by my own free resolution, decided I should act on this information, I have not arrived at any moral conclusions."

      The Thomist contention would be that this is simply false. As a matter of objective fact, prior to any decision by the moral agent, in light of what the will is, what a moral agent seeks, necessarily, is the intelligible good. Any free decision the agent can make is constrained by this. What the agent takes this to be can very significantly, and will depend on what he takes human teleology to be, but whatever they end up choosing, at the very minimum, it will be “something really worth doing”. *This* is never in question. Unlike other candidates for practical "self-evidence" that Nielsen (mostly correctly, in my view) rejects, this is it.

      What Nielsen takes to be only achievable through “choice”, we take to be there, necessarily, before any choice. His contention, given what he concedes to the Thomist, only makes sense if we never bother to think about what the word “choice” means. On A-T, a choice is an exercise of the power that is the will. And like all powers, the will has its own teleology. If one concedes all of the metaphysics, there's simply no other way to make sense of “choice” without reference to the will.

      In the book Dr . Feser presents the following syllogism:
      1) If I want what is good for me then I ought to pursue what realizes my natural ends and avoid what frustrates them;
      2) I do want what is good for me;
      3) I ought to pursue what realizes my natural ends and avoid what frustrates them.

      The major is true given the truth of essentialism and teleology; the minor – in light of the nature of the will.


      P.S.

      The fact that, in the article, Nielsen is quite rightly critical of appeals to majorities in moral matters, is preciously ironic.

      Delete
    32. "If the evidence supports the historical accuracy of the gospels, where is the need for faith? <...> ?"

      In Catholic doctrine (as well as, at least arguably, in Orthodox theology, among the more traditional Anglicans) faith is strictly necessary, per se, only in the case of true mysteries (like the Trinity or the Incarnation/Hypostatic Union, the beatific vision/theosis) and things unknowable unless revealed, like the sacraments etc. See St. Thomas, 2a 2ae, q. 1, a. 5:

      Now as stated above (Article 4), it is impossible that one and the same thing should be believed and seen by the same person. Hence it is equally impossible for one and the same thing to be an object of science and of belief for the same person. It may happen, however, that a thing which is an object of vision or science for one, is believed by another: since we hope to see some day what we now believe about the Trinity, according to 1 Corinthians 13:12: "We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face": which vision the angels possess already; so that what we believe, they see. On like manner it may happen that what is an object of vision or scientific knowledge for one man, even in the state of a wayfarer, is, for another man, an object of faith, because he does not know it by demonstration.

      Nevertheless that which is proposed to be believed equally by all, is equally unknown by all as an object of science: such are the things which are of faith simply. <...>

      https://www.newadvent.org/summa/3001.htm#article5

      Your local fundy preacher may have a different view, but they are not, ahem, necessarily representative of Christianity.

      Delete
    33. "<…> And if the historical reliability of the gospels is so obvious, why have so many scholars failed to appreciate the incontestable nature of the evidence?"

      I distinguish: the historical reliability of the Gospels should be obvious to a scholar of good will with correct presuppositions, this I concede; to just any scholar, as such, this I deny.

      For example, it's only reasonable for a person who does not grant the very possibility of miracles to hesitate to admit testimony that a miracle has occurred. If one does not concede the possibility of prophecy, it's perfectly natural to assume that a supposed report of a successful prophecy is probably no such thing, ceteris paribus. If God exists, however, the situation is different.

      To take one example, if prophecies are possible, which is true if God exists, there's no reason to place the date of composition of the Gospel of Matthew after the prophesied destruction of Jerusalem and dismiss internal/external testimony to that effect. If the Gospel of Luke was written before the death of St. Paul, as is attested by the Early Chuch Fathers, but after the composition of Matthew and Mark, as is commonly held by modern scholars, it's entirely possible that the synoptic Gospels were written before 64/67 AD, and this is obviously relevant.

      I don't expect this to convince you that that's, in fact, the case here, in a combox, but I hope this example shows to what extent the all-important things like dating and authorship, as well as the very question of what to admit as evidence, depend on what one admits as really possible. Biblical studies as a discipline is, in my experience, remarkably unware of this: the issue is rarely explicitly considered, and fruitless debates between, e.g., Christian believers, on the one hand, and materialists, on the other, proceed as if the positions of the participants were solely determined by the mere application of uniform methods to the same material, are admitted as sensible exercises.

      So it would perhaps be surprising if philosophically informed theistic Biblical scholars were to reliably fail to appreciate the evidence in favour of the historical reliability of the Gospels. However, I don't see any evidence of this.

      Delete
    34. @ Most Diligent Anonymous

      "I have noticed that you interact with your critics only sparingly, and that this frustrates them enormously, causing screeds of rebukes to flow your way ( Son of Ya'kov, Mr Gavison and Mr 'Taliban' Geocon in particular seem to love you very much! )."

      Yes, I do find question-begging sermonising frustrating, and the same goes for evasion, employing red-herrings and appeals to mere authority in the face of actual arguments. What can I say? Fallacies are frustrating.

      Philosophically interesting links, like the one at 7:11 PM? Not at all frustrating. Indeed, most welcome!

      Now, if Papalinton were to succeed in his endeavor announced above and start providing recognisable arguments, instead of, mostly, boldly asserting conclusions and congratulating others/himself for holding them / berating those who fail to do so, or prophesying our non-philosophical defeat in the future, I would be positively overjoyed and giddy with excitement, along with the other posters you mentioned.

      That's all we ask.

      Delete
    35. The reason Papalinton is annoying (besides his self-congratulatory tone) is that he seems to think that an idea's popularity (or at least, its popularity among a group of philosophers) is a measure of its worthiness. Underlying this is the assumption that we live in a free marketplace of ideas in which the best ideas rise to the top. This is not how the real world works. In reality, what ideas rise to the top are determined by power. What ideas become dominant in a given social sphere is determined by patronage. If all the rich and powerful people tomorrow decide that Thomism is the bomb, then Thomism we would see a big shift in academia and then in popular culture, and within fifty years, Papalinton would have to eat his words. As hilarious as that scenario would be, I'm no utopian. Naturalism, liberal ideology, and atheism are common because these ideas are selected for by power, largely because of power's self-interest. Professor Feser himself has written a two-part essay on the matter - "Why Are Universities Dominated by the Left" and "The Opium of the Professors" - in which he lays out his answer on the matter. Essentially, the morality of the orthodox Christian worldview makes it difficult to justify the preferred political projects of the elites, so they promoted other religions to suit their interests. First Protestantism, then liberal Protestantism, and now secular liberalism. The justifying ideology of the elites changes to suit their ideological needs.

      And whither Thomism? Well, its historical patronage by the Catholic Church makes it a potential rival worldview to their own. So there are efforts by the mouthpieces of the elites - the New Atheists being one incarnation - to discredit it. You may think their arguments are successful, but the success of their argument has little to do with the dominance of their arguments. The truth of an idea is not what determines its popularity or prestige. We should know this because bad ideas have been popular in the past, and there's no reason to believe that they ever stopped being popular (unless you believe that the status quo ideology is perfectly sound). Again, it is patronage that makes an idea popular or prestigious.

      Delete
    36. Also, I'm neither a white supremacist nor a Christian fundamentalist. I have talked to those types before, and I think their ideas are wrong (and in some cases, morally repugnant). My views on race and Christianity may not be to the likings of certain liberal commenters, but so what? Why should I appeal to their tastes for them to stop lying?

      Delete
    37. The only systemic racism is going to be against white progz. Blacks are not buying the woke grandstanding and treating them like context-determined political pets.

      https://mobile.twitter.com/Lukewearechange/status/1388924041323548675

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    38. Thomas Gavisus @ 3.16AM

      Taking up the syllogism you cite:

      "In the book Dr . Feser presents the following syllogism:
      1) If I want what is good for me then I ought to pursue what realizes my natural ends and avoid what frustrates them;
      2) I do want what is good for me;
      3) I ought to pursue what realizes my natural ends and avoid what frustrates them."

      Wrap your furrowed brow around these:

      The first two are examples of definitional disproofs:
      A. An All-Virtuous Being Cannot Exist
      1. God is (by definition) a being than which no greater being can be thought.
      2. Greatness includes the greatness of virtue.
      3. Therefore, God is a being than which no being could be more virtuous.
      4. But virtue involves overcoming pain and danger.
      5. Indeed, a being can only be properly said to be virtuous if it can suffer pain or be destroyed.
      6. A God that can suffer pain or is destructible is not one than which no greater being can be thought.
      7. For you can think of a greater being, one that is nonsuffering and indestructible.
      8. Therefore, God does not exist.

      BWorship and Moral Agency
      1. If any being is God, he must be a fitting object of worship.
      2. No being could possibly be a fitting object for worship, since worship requires the abandonment of one's role as an autonomous moral agent.
      3. Therefore, there cannot be any being who is God.

      The Problem of Evil
      1. If God exists then the attributes of God are consistent with the existence of evil.
      2. The attributes of God are not consistent with the the existence of evil.
      3. Therefore, God does not and cannot exist.

      A Perfect Creator Cannot Exist
      1. If God exists, then he is perfect.
      2. If God exists, then he is the creator of the universe.
      3. If a being is perfect, then whatever He creates must be perfect.
      4. But the universe is not perfect.
      5. Therefore, it is impossible for a perfect being to be the creator of the universe.
      6. Hence, it is impossible for God to exist.

      A Transcendent Being Cannot be Omnipotent
      1. If God exists, then he is transcendent (i.e. outside space and time).
      2. If God exists, he is omnipotent.
      3. To be transcendent, a being cannot exist anywhere in space.
      4. To be omnipotent, a being must exist everywhere in space.
      5. Hence it is impossible for a transcendent being to be omnipotent.
      6. Therefore, it is impossible for God to exist.

      A Personal Being Cannot be Nonphysical
      1. If God exists, then He is nonphysical.
      2. If God exists, then He is a person (or a personal being).
      3. A person (or personal being) needs to be physical.
      4. Hence, it is impossible for God to exist.

      The Paradox of Omnipotence.
      1. Either God can create a stone that He cannot lift, or He cannot create a stone that He cannot lift.
      2. If God can create a stone that He cannot lift, then He is not omnipotent.
      4. Therefore, God is not omnipotent.

      I am indebted to Professor Victor Stenger (may he rest in peace) for these examples. Truly a great mind.

      Delete
    39. @Papalinton

      Lets play a bit with your arguments! I hope to show that, at least using the ur-platonists pressupositions*, they all fail:


      A: Premise 2 is false, for virtue is only necessary or possible to beings that could be good or not, so require habits to their sucess. Virtues them pressuposes limitations, so they can't be required to have greatness.

      B: Premise 2 fails again! Autonomy, at least in the kantian sense, is nonsense, for the moral life requires one to obey norms that are not created by one own reason.

      C: Premise 2 fails again. Since we all already discussed that one on a recent thread, i will not explain it again.

      D: Premise 3 is obviously false, for to a Perfect Creator to be able to create a perfect thing the creation would have to be exactly like Him, for anything less has a limitation. Since to be like the Perfect Creator the created thing would have, like Him, to be uncreated, "create a Perfect thing" is self-contradictory.

      E: premise 4 is obviously false, for to be omnipotent the being would need to have no limitation and to be in space is exactly to be limitated to a certain place, so a omnipotent being in any place, at least in the sense that i'am in my house, is nonsense.

      F: Premise 3 is false, for to be a person one only need a intelect and a will, and these both, being immaterial powers, don't require having a body.

      G. Premise 1 is probably not even true or false but literaly meaningless, for "a stone that a God/a omnipotent being can't lift" is self-contradictory, so all you have is a bunch of worlds(like "married bachelor"). The argument them fails by not even meaning anything.


      *you can go and ask: "why use these pressupositions and not the ones i have?" For three reasons:

      1. This way it is shown that the ur-platonists have coherent sistems

      2. It can help one understand our views better

      3. Why should we use pressupositions that we not accept?

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    40. Again, in my answer i'am taking for granted that some form of ur-platonism is true in order to show that the thing is self-consistent. I'am well aware that you, Papa, will not accept a lot of what i say here, i just don't care nor need to, for my aim is not to show that ur-platonism IS the case, only that it COULD be the case. If your objections fail to show that ur-platonism is self-consistent, i win.

      And boy, this is quite fun! Continue like that, giving us actual material instead of rants, and you will become one of these non-thomists that we like!

      Delete
    41. @Talmid:

      "And boy, this is quite fun! Continue like that, giving us actual material instead of rants, and you will become one of these non-thomists that we like!"

      You have a definitely strange idea of what constitutes fun, but who am I to complain? What is really strange though, is that you think Papalinton's idiotic syllogisms are deserving of a serious response, as opposed to relentless mocking. That he cheerleads for Victor Stenger and his intellectual ilk is all but predictable; were it that he would use the rhetorical equivalent of pompons, tight skirts and a generous cleavage, at least we would have some entertainment, instead of being served to a dose of nauseating, vomit-inducing prose. It is positively baffling that you think that there is any serious threat of him becoming a "non-thomist" that "we like" (who is "we" anyway?). Whatever one's opinion of him (and mine is as low as it gets), serious discussion is not the reason why he prowls the combox precincts, by his own reckoning. But then again, maybe I am taking you too literally and you are just being facetious.

      Delete
  22. My spiritual reading today is St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, 3.28 - "Of Rash Judgment". This article suggests that a Tweet is usually a rash judgment. "By judging our neighbour on every occasion, we never cease from doing what is forbidden, and we never do what has been imposed on us, namely, to judge ourselves." He also said, "There are some hearts by nature so sour, bitter, and harsh as to render equally bitter and harsh everything that they receive." I'm not much of a Twitter user - I mostly just use it to follow the Pope - but I never look at the responses to his tweets because they're often ghastly.

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  23. Miguel CervantesMay 1, 2021 at 7:38 AM

    Secularist utopianism goes back a long way in the West. It was Leibniz who first provided a metaphysical basis for an earthly utopia. His belief that creation, including mankind, must eventually actualise all its potentialities, allowed him to assert that human society would only advance and attain greater perfection. This ignored the potentialities caused by free will and fallen nature. But for him, original sin was no obstacle because he thought that, like a broken spring in a watch, negative dispositions in humans can be “fixed” by contrary actions. Like so many during the Enlightenment, he believed that vice was more a form of ignorance than something that concerned the will. The consequences of these unorthodox views have been hammered out by more or less nutty ideologies ever since.

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    Replies
    1. Judaism believes that everyone (including Adam before the fall of man) has a yetser hara (inclination towards evil) and a yetser hatov (inclination towards good) and that it's within the natural power of men to choose the good and avoid the evil. So the Jew would see attempts towards secular utopia not as "nutty ideologies" but rather as a natural outworking of God's plan for humanity to fix the world.

      The classical theist tradition is not Christian, and the constant phrasing of things in terms of Christianity's eccentric and peculiar doctrines like original sin, grace, and Christian heresies like gnosticism versus orthodoxy, is frustrating. Christianity is a very weird religion (which is why Jews have strongly preferred Islam over Christianity for gentiles to practice) and should not be viewed as the prototype for theism. From the point of view of classical theism, Christianity is the "nutty ideology."

      Delete
    2. FWIW from a mostly quiet lurker in response to BTO: the assertion that "the classical theist tradition is not Christian" jumps out at me. I understand that classical theism and Xty are not one and the same thing, but one is a subset of the other, or it sure seems that way to me.

      One of my great intellectual delights was in learning rather later in life than I wanted that much (but not all) of God's attributes* and character could be deduced from reason alone, such as omniscience, omnipotence, intellect, will, eternality, changelessness, goodness, and simplicity, to rattle a list off the top of my head. Although arch-Protestant to the core, I've enjoyed and profited from Feser's books discussing these things as well as other presentations, usually by Dominicans. (Makes me somewhat jealous of the RC intellectual tradition.)

      If in theory one started from reason and observation and arrived at the purely actual actualizer who by virtue of being purely actual has things that by analogy we call omnipotence, omniscience, will, intellect, etc, then even a cursory examination of the Bible will show that the God of the Bible is consistent with these things. (Or, it sure seems that way to me.) It makes acceptance of the biblical texts much easier than starting from absolute scratch. It is much easier for me to consider believable the concept of God incarnating as a man and dying on a cross and bodily rising from death when I have purely rational grounds for concluding that the God of classical theism exists than if I was a philosophical blank slate.

      I find that natural theology really complements revealed theology and renders it plausible.

      (Although, as stated, in my life, I was a mix of natural and revealed theology. My deconversion from atheism wasn't purely based on natural theology, but it was a big contributor to my questioning tenets of my atheism long ago.)

      Thus, as I see Christianity as an extension of natural theology, I don't see Christianity as a "nutty ideology", but a natural extension.

      This is just intended as a conversational musing, not a rigorous reply.

      * --- my understanding of simplicity requires me to say that it is not technically correct to say that God "has attributes", since then God would have "parts". To my amateur level of understanding of simplicity, I think the pithy statement is "God is what he has" rather than being some instantiation of "the most powerful being possible" who also happens to have certain properties. I can't avoid the conclusion of simplicity, but have no internal way of visualizing it in a satisfying way, sort of like trying to visualize a nonmeasurable subset of the real line. As one can tell, I'm strictly amateur in the area of metaphysics (but not in nonmeasurable sets heh).

      Delete
    3. @ BTO

      I understand your frustration with question-begging assertions (not that I think Cervantes is necessarily guilty of this here), but what is it that you consider nutty about Christianity in classical theist terms, precisely, and in what way is Judaism or Islam "normal" in comparison?

      And what peculiar relation, if any, does secular utopia have with classical theism, understood in the sense discussed on this blog?

      Delete
    4. The idea that classical theism and utopias have much in common is kinda strange. Not only the christians do not believe un that but the average pagan classical theist usually sees reality as ciclical and not linear, so the eras of progress, the golden ages, would only last for a time.

      Delete
    5. Talmid,

      See tikkun ha'olam. Most Jews (whether Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, or Orthodox) would say that the idea of utopia being achieved through man's efforts is a good thing, but would find fault with the French revolution, communism, etc... (while not denying some good things coming from them) for not being based on ethical monotheism.

      Delete
    6. Miguel CervantesMay 2, 2021 at 1:07 AM

      It depends on what you mean by classical theism, BalancedTryteOperators.. If you mean the non-Christian philosophers who had some notion of God, well of course they weren’t Christian, by definition. The theism of philosophers like St. Thomas was Christian, by definition.

      Your comment does point to certain facts worth noting: “The classical theist tradition is not Christian, and the constant phrasing of things in terms of Christianity's eccentric and peculiar doctrines like original sin, grace, and Christian heresies like gnosticism versus orthodoxy, is frustrating”. I agree with you that most of the pagan philosophers would have regarded Christianity as a nutty ideology, and did, when they finally encountered it in late Antiquity. You are right to imply that classical philosophers did entertain utopias, this being because they did not believe in those Christian doctrines you mention, and which would certainly have “frustrated” their worldview.

      Surely the Hebrews of the Old Testament didn’t believe it was God’s plan for humanity to “fix the world”. Everything points in the other direction. It is precisely this world that can’t be fixed by men. Civil society has its ends which people must strive to achieve, but only utopianism pretends that it can “fix” the world in the accomplished sense of that term. Orthodox religion’s ends don’t include world-fixing either. I think you’ll find these ideas have been followed by various sects and factions, not the Church.

      Delete
    7. WBC

      Ezekiel 36:26-8
      26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
      27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
      28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.


      See also:
      Ezekiel 36:26-8, Isaiah 59:20-21, Jeremiah 24:6-7,Jeremiah 31:33-34, Ezekiel 11:19, 1 Samuel 10:9, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

      God, through his prophets tells us he can put his statutes and commands into the hearts of the Israelites so they will do them.

      God then does not care strictly about free will, so this eliminates all free will defences. With the "Great Commission" God then could put his statutes and commands into the hearts of all mankind. Eliminating horrendous moral evils, and giving us a nice Utopian world. The question now is, what is God waiting on and why is God not fulfilling his promises in regards to this?

      Of course, if God does not exist, that explains that. God seems to have bad problem solving skills. If you were God, you would you deal with all of this?

      God did promise a Utopian world, see Isiah 60 - 66. The coming of God's Holy Mountain, center of a world wide Utopia.

      WCB

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    8. BalancedTryteOperators,
      In orthodox Judaism, the utopia does not occur until after the coming of the Messiah; it cannot be brought about by humans alone. This is one of the thirteen principles of faith elucidated by the Rambam (Maimonides) in commenting on Sanhedrin (a tractate in the Mishnah).
      Certainly, trinitarian classical theism has to discuss why the three hypostases in one ousia do not contradict divine simplicity, and there are different approaches to this: those of the Cappadocian Fathers, of Thomas Aquinas, and of Gregory Palamas--all of whom accepted simplicity of the divine essence but discussed it in different ways. This does not mean that trinitarian classical theism is not classical theism.

      Delete
    9. From Contemplating God with the Great Tradition: Recovering Trinitarian Classical Theism by Craig A. Carter.

      The first forty-three questions of Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica constitute the locus classicus of the orthodox Christian doctrine of God. This doctrine of God, which can be termed “trinitarian classical theism,” is presupposed by the Protestant Reformers, expounded in detail by the Protestant scholastics, and embedded in the Reformation confessions such as the Augsburg Confession, the Thirty-Nine Articles, and the Westminster Confession. It is taken as fundamental truth as much by the Puritans and evangelicals as by Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism and is expressed faithfully in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the latter part of the twentieth century.

      Craig A. Carter, Contemplating God with the Great Tradition: Recovering Trinitarian Classical Theism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic: A Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2021), 270–271.

      Delete
    10. In the fourth century, divine simplicity was accepted by those eventually labeled "heretics" such as Arius and Eunomius and by the "orthodox" such as Athanasius and the Cappadocian Fathers alike.

      Delete
    11. WCB

      It was notably accepted by Augustine, who based his theory of the nature of the trinity on the simplicty of God.

      Descartes took that idea to its logical conclusion. God creates the metaphysical necessities such as math, morality. And of course logic.


      Rene Descartes - Letter To Marin Mersenne, 15 April 1630


      However, in my treatise on physics I shall discuss a number of metaphysical topics and especially the following. The mathematical truths which you call eternal have been laid down by God and depend on him entirely no less than the rest of his creatures.

      If God creates all the metaphysical necessities, and is good, God could tweak his laws to eliminate moral evil. we do not live in such a moral evil free world.
      making either God's simplicity, or goodness questionable assertions.

      WCB

      Delete
    12. So many mistakes WCB.

      Of course Descartes is not a Classic Theist & he is Post Enlightenment where mechanistic philosophers first introduced the novelty that God is a moral agent in the univocal way virtuous rational creatures are moral agents. He departed from the earlier tradition radically which had no such concept.

      He is a beginning Theistic Persona-list and an irrationalist. He once argued the divine omnipotence means God can really make a Rock so heavy that even God Himself couldn't lift it and He claimed if God needed to lift it then He could do it. He argued God could make peaks without valleys and he argued God could make 2+2=5 and this was allowed by the divine omnipotence. He literally taught God could make intrinsic contradictions reality.
      The problem with this view is if God do this then God can therefore make the seeming contradiction of His being both all powerful and all good vs allowing evil to exist true because He can make contradictions true.

      But of course Aquinas and the early Christian philosophers knew being Omnipotent means having all powers and there is no power to make a contradiction true.

      >It was notably accepted by Augustine, who based his theory of the nature of the trinity on the simplicty of God.

      Not sure where WCB is getting this nonsense? Most critics of the Trinity try to claim the Trinity with it real distinctions between the divine relations/persons somehow contradicts the divine simplicity? Usually by ad hoc redefining Divine simplicity to mean God contains absolutely no real distinctions but the actual Christian doctrine teaches God contains no real physical or metaphysical distinctions but it doesn't exclude mysterious ones.

      Descartes work was put on the Index of Forbidden books for a reason. It was plausibly heretical nonsense.

      >God creates the metaphysical necessities such as math, morality. And of course logic.

      This is of course incoherent nonsense since if these things are metaphysically necessary then they are their own reason to exist and don't require God for the reason of their being.

      Ergo things that are metaphysically necessary
      must subsist in God by nature who is Necessary Existence/Being Itself.

      Feser deals with this. I posted a link once to WCB. He ignored it.

      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-obligation-and-euthyphro-dilemma.html

      He is not here to make a good faith philosophical case against Classic Theism. He just wants a good troll. How he thinks that will make us want to be Atheist is a mystery seemingly deeper than the Trinty.

      Delete
    13. @Eric Vestrup

      I am Arch Catholic and a fierce critic of Protestantism and I agree with everything you wrote below.

      "If in theory one started from reason and observation and arrived at the purely actual actualizer who by virtue of being purely actual has things that by analogy we call omnipotence, omniscience, will, intellect, etc, then even a cursory examination of the Bible will show that the God of the Bible is consistent with these things. (Or, it sure seems that way to me.) "

      Cheers Brother.

      Delete
    14. WCB

      All classical theologians have upheld the dogma that God is simple, without parts.

      It is simply they did not think to take this to its logical conclusion which Descartes did. This has been explained to you over at Strange Notions repeatedly. Logic then is not something outside and beyond God which limits God. There is nothing outside of God. Thus no need for theologians to explain how it came to be that God has the substance God has, or the essences God has. No need to invoke some outside metaphysics to give God his nature and aseity. But then we have the problem as Descartes theory has it, that God could change these laws, even mathematics as God pleases. And Descartes is logically correct.

      Now the problem is as I stated, why doesn't God use his ability and his goodness to eliminate great and hoorrendous moral evils?

      God could give mankind a god-like good moral nature, a God enjoys, and god-like free will as God enjoys to ensure mankind freely chooses to do no moral evil. Since God defines logic, any supposed reason offered that this cannot be done is a counter claim that is Dead On Arrival.
      Rene Descartes, Letter to Arnauld, 29 July 1648

      "...I would not dare to say that God
      cannot make a mountain without a valley, or bring it about that 1 and 2.
      are not 3. I merely say that he has given me such a mind that I cannot
      conceive a mountain without a valley, or a sum of 1 and 2 which is not 3;
      such things involve a contradiction in my conception."

      You know nothing and can't learn any thing.

      WCB

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    15. WCB

      Yer just writing words and I suspect you using some sort of essay bot generator?

      Because nothing you have written makes any sense and you contradict yerself. Happy Gilmore citation apply. God have mercy on yer soul and all that.


      First you said "God creates the metaphysical necessities such as math, morality. And of course logic."

      Which of course it incoherent. You cannot create the metaphysically necessary only the metaphysically conditional. It is like saying Lucy is going to marry Tom the Bachelor and make him Tom the Married Bachelor. Ah no...Tom the former Bachelor yes but "Married Bachelor" is incoherent.

      So is creating metaphysical necessities. It would help WCB if you actually learned the formal terms of Art for philosophy?

      Then you contradict and reverse yerself "Logic then is not something outside and beyond God which limits God. There is nothing outside of God.".

      So now God didn't create metaphysical necessities like logic? Make up yer mind lad and if yer smoking something. Be a pal and share. (It must be some good shit)

      >But then we have the problem as Descartes theory has it, that God could change these laws, even mathematics as God pleases. And Descartes is logically correct.

      No God is immutable and cannot change His Nature. The only "change" that can be applied to God is relative change or Cambridge Change. Not real change.

      Descartes is not logical (& I don't think these are his thoughts just some gibberish WCB made up) that is his problem.

      >Now the problem is as I stated, why doesn't God use his ability and his goodness to eliminate great and hoorrendous moral evils?

      God is not obligated too. Why He allows any particular evil is a mystery just like why He created at all and created this specific world it is a mystery. All we can deduce is He choose to do this from all Eternity and notionally He could have chosen otherwise.

      >God could give mankind a god-like good moral nature, a God enjoys, and god-like free will as God enjoys to ensure mankind freely chooses to do no moral evil. Since God defines logic, any supposed reason offered that this cannot be done is a counter claim that is Dead On Arrival.

      Well the above is just gibberish. Ladd first rule of dealing. Don't smoke what ya sell.

      >"..I would not dare to say that God
      cannot make a mountain without a valley, or bring it about.

      Which proves what I said is right. Descartes said God can create contradictions. That is absurd. One might say "Well can't God do anything well Valleys without peaks doesn't describe anything. It describes nothing adding new meaning to the phrase "There is nothing God cannot do".

      With this sort of nonsense in yer brain WCB it is little wonder you are taken in by CRT.

      >You know nothing and can't learn any thing.

      Yer a walking talking monument to absolute intellectual Nihilism WCB.

      This is yer brain on post Modernism.

      Any questions?

      Delete
    16. @BTO

      Well, even if the jews do believe in a secular utopia*, this does not show that christianity is the nutty ideology that uses classical theism. Judaism is only a part of the tradition, and a tiny one really.


      *as mentioned by other guy, they need the Messiah for that, actually

      Delete
    17. Yako

      If God creates the laws of logic as Descartes believed and WCB is also postulating ( as there is nothing outside of God ), then you really cannot use logic to defeat that position. Yes, creating the metaphysically necessary is a contradiction in terms, but that is only because you are applying the logic that God has freely created.

      And are you quite sure that God cannot ride a bike? Maybe if he changed the entire logical framework by which the world operates he would be able to do so?

      Delete
    18. WCB

      Alvin Plantinga has called this Universal Possibilism. If God creates all the metaphysical necessities, anything that God wants is possible. If as Classic Theology tells us God is good, the source of all morality, then God could easily eliminate all moral evil as such a God would want to do. Of course if we then reply, that maybe God defines the metaphysical necessity of morality different from us, one has achieved perfect intellectual nihilism, nothing means anything any more, including morality. The Bible explicitly claims God is compassionate, merciful, just, fair, righteous and love, all the sub-goodnesses list in the supposed revelation of God which are defined in numerous verses. These then must mean nothing if we go that route. Perfect intellectual nihilism where there is no meaning to anything any more.

      Son of Ya'Kov, AKA Jim the Scot over at Strange Notions and I have gone over this several times. His ad hominem attacks on me do not solve these sorts of theological problems. all that he has left is these sorts of tirades and name calling.

      Anything I post and SN is immediately attacked by him. Why then post?

      Won't somebody think of the lurkers?

      WCB

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    19. WCB

      Son of Yakov is ill disciplined and irrascible ,launching into abusive and interminable rants as a matter of course. He is not the easiest of people to have a protracted civil conversation with. There is not much point in appealing to his better nature either as he will just trot out the stereotype that he is a plain speaking working class Scott ( think Willie the janitor off The Simpsons ), and what you see is what you get.

      Not an easy person to converse with.

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    20. WCB

      Somebody named Cantus said this of you:

      "At this point I have to conclude that it's part of a deliberate strategy on your part that, whenever someone argues against something you said, that you simply say it again louder, and pretend that nobody ever responded to you."

      Yep and here you have done it again.

      Let me know how that works out for ya.

      Delete

    21. I am not convince Unkown and WCB are different people. OTOH if they seem the same it is because well Gnus are all the same.
      Somebody up thread said they are like Robots.

      >If God creates the laws of logic as Descartes believed and WCB is also postulating ( as there is nothing outside of God ), then you really cannot use logic to defeat that position.

      But God didn't create logic. Logic as a perfection would exist in God as an Archetypal Ideal.

      So that is a non-starter.

      PS Nope God can't ride a Bike and God is not a moral agent and the God of the Philosopher is in fact the God of the Bible.


      Delete
  24. Socrates
    "Then I spoke the truth when I said that neither you nor anyone else in the world would choose to do wrong rather than suffer it, since it really is more evil."

    Plato, Gorgias 475e

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  25. A substantial book critiquing natural law theory appeared last year, and it particularly engages with the work of Feser, yet as far as I am aware there has been no response yet from the good professor.

    The book is 'The Unnecessary Science - A Critical Analysis of Natural Law Theory' by Gunther Laird. Onus Books, 370 pages.

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    Replies
    1. I do really believe that ancient Aristotelian and Thomist and even, to a degree, Platonic traditions are lacking substantial criticisms against them. Philosophy for these men and their disciples was just largely different than how it’s done today in accademia. Jacques Maritain’s Preface to Metaphysics opened this up to me. Older schools of thought began their journey with acquaintance of mind to the object of study. In metaphysics, where we get our notion of good and evil most fully flushed out, we have to, so to speak, “discover” the being of objects we encounter. To really “see” with the mind that the object in front of you is being is a really profound thing, which cannot be merely reduced to a logical proposition. It seems that recent metaphysical studies are fixated with propositional logic (e.g. debates about how one should define a cause, or how to use modal logic to determine essences), which is not the same thing as having a good grasp of the concept itself which is expressed in that proposition. I find that many critics, then, are merely searching for logical arguments where none need to be present. Final causality and it’s use in the concept of goodness used to be taken as a first principle, that is, once one “saw” the very being of the object in itself, then there was no need to argue that it had some inclination, or was defined by essence, or was good. Some might even critique this comment I’m making, but I really see this as a “pearls before swine” type of situation. It’s just that ancient metaphysics was a way of life, and demanded one conform ones understanding to the truth, and radically shift ones mode of thinking. Now, rather, critics who have not pursued metaphysical wisdom demand the truth be conveyed through modes that the critics understand, and we try to do so because the state of academia and society at large is so far from the truth that we need to help them as Christians. But this has its limitations, because hardness of heart and head will prevent one from truly following the ancient path to wisdom.

      Delete
    2. Well all the Skeptic and Free-thought blogs are crowing about this new book? I don't know who this Laird fellow is either? I saw a brief comment on it by Graham Oppy about it casting "a critical Eye over the Blogs and work of Feser. The work gives readers plenty to think about."

      Well that sounds tame from a professional Atheist philosopher. Anyway if it really is the bees' knees why don't you people try some of its arguments here?

      That would be a challenge rather the bulk of the Gnu nutters who show up here & keep recycling their contra YEC Fundamentalist Protestant Christian polemics & anti-ID polemics & expect us to give two fecks about their non-starters.

      You know where to find us people. Now mind you the index look a bit dodgy. Bitching about Aristole's views on slavery...sounds like virtue signaling?

      Another reviewer said "Laird also discusses Feser’s failed response to the problem of evil. Feser appeals to greater goods for why God allows evil. But Laird points out that God could have created beings in a perfect environment."

      No that is not all he does? That sounds like WCB's or Tom's failed argument? The problem of evil presupposes a moral agent God and Feser and the rest of us don't think God is a moral agent nor can God be coherently called a moral agent thus the Problem of Evil is a non-starter.

      I suspect James Sterba did this "argument" better and I think Feser rebutted him quite nicely in that paper and pointed out his flaws.

      (I should note Tom is a theist and a Christian and when we debated this with me he was more or less playing Devil's advocate. He made a better argument then most Atheistz I butted heads with as a Theistic Christian but I found it wanting).

      Also the Thomistic formulation is it is part of the Goodness of God to allow evil so as to bring good out of it.

      God for example can allow a human child to be eaten by a Tiger and the only good that comes from it is the Tiger is made healthy. God is not obligated to create anything. God has no obligation to create the Tiger or the Child and He has no obligation to favor one or the other. If the Child falls victim to the natural evil of being eaten and the Tiger is saved from starving God is not obligated to save the Child. God is not obligated to the Tiger to help it catch the child. God need not have created either but God would not create a predator without creating prey.

      There is no world so good is obligated to create it and none so evil that as long as it partakes of being God should refrain from creating it. There is no such thing as the best of all possible worlds. If this fellow is just relying on Feser blogs and books and not reading the back round (like Davies and McCabe) well then I suspect he will rook it.

      So it sounds like he is going to Ad Hoc state a "good" God would never create a world with any evil in it.

      But God is merely Metaphysically Good and Ontologically good but God is not morally good in the univocal way a supremely virtuous rational creature. Given His Nature that is incoherent. Like saying because God is perfect he must be a perfect champion bike rider. Which is also incoherent since the divine essence can't literally ride a bike.


      Well bring it ladds. If it is good enough to win light praise from Oppy maybe it might be somewhat challenging.

      I would like to see that from you Gnu lot for once. In stead of boring the shite out of me with the non starters.

      Delete
    3. edit "There is no world so good God is obligated to create it and none so bad that as long as it partakes of being then God should refrain from creating it."

      God's relationship to His Creature is pure charity on His Part toward us and no obligations other than what He has Willed for Us and God has absolute obligations to Himself alone.

      Delete
    4. Yako

      While most others on this blog will patiently explain their Thomism in the spirit of education and persuasion , you always sound like an obsessed football supporter jumping up and down screaming in support of your team. This is absolutely guaranteed to turn people off, get their backs up and greatly limit the effectiveness of anything persuasive that you might say. You are so dogmatically certain of everything - including the questionable claim that God cannot ride a bike - that you pretty much come across like one of your beloved young earth fundies. Mr Gavison might niggle a little on occassion, but his expositions are always appreciated. How come I always desire so badly to punch you in the snout?

      Delete
    5. Unknown yer a drama queen and hypocrite troll who viciously and personally attacks others & for some mad reasons takes great insult when they hit back?

      Also as I recall you threatened Prof Feser that if he didn't give you yer way you would fill his comboxes with yer nonsense.

      Also I note Feser accused you of carrying on conversations with yerself.

      Yer really in no moral position to give advise.

      >How come I always desire so badly to punch you in the snout?

      Well given yer behavior to date I would say it is because yer a sociopath.

      Delete
    6. Son of Yakov

      I love you so much really xxxx

      Delete
    7. I pity you. To waste yer intellect on such base trolling when you could use it to make rational arguments.

      Or maybe I am right. A Sociopath cannot feel empathy and has no regard for the rights and feeling of others. That is you buddy.

      Be better and God bless.

      Delete
    8. Son of Y 3.17AM

      I might add that Feser did not accuse me of feigning conversations with myself. He claimed that an unspecified person was doing this, and you have misremembered, thinking that it was me. But then again, you think that I am Papalinton and StarDusty in disguise, not to mention Ghostman and every Anonymous that has ever posted on here!

      Delete
    9. Sorry about that. Switched computers from kitchen to living room and forgot to log out the wife.

      Unkown

      You threatened him buddy. You threatened to pollute his Combox. Which is ironic because you do it anyway.

      You have an intellect gifted by God or Evolution (or both my view). Yet you waste it on trolling. Sad...

      Delete
  26. Miguel CervantesMay 1, 2021 at 11:22 PM

    Of course, one could say that metaphysics that ignores original sin (known through revelation) can easily be used to support secularist utopias: On one hand, the bar is set extremely low (this world only). On the other, ignorance or denial of original sin allows a presumption that humanity must fulfill its potentialities. After all, if Aristotle defined the end of man as well-being, then how its achievement is bashed out by ideologies on the left or right of the ideological political divide is a secondary matter.

    Morality which is only secular can more easily envisage utopias; it boils down to a question of environment and education. However, if one knows that the best thing for mankind is to see God, a difficult breach must appear between knowing and doing it. On the other hand, in Classical Greece, the distance between men and gods was not unfathomable in popular mythology. Even a philosopher of Plato’s standing considered the attainment of the vision of perfection to be a matter of education (and out of reach of the vast majority), not something to do with religion and corresponding actions.

    The secularist utopia could be advanced, even without adopting the fanatical atheism of today’s mobs on twitter and elsewhere. Herder was able to do this from a conservative point of view. In line with his, he was a utopian of the present. There was no need to change the widely differing values and beliefs of different nations. To the contrary, such pluralism was defended. Indeed, Islam, a dogmatic and universalist religion (an aspect shared with Christianity and extremely few others), put up “a wall of superstition to the natural progress towards perfection”.

    In line with many Enlightenment thinkers, he believed that evil existed, but only to provoke the good into existence as a reaction. Historical progress was therefore not lineal, but marked by periodical crises and revolutions in order to achieve progress. This view was repeated by de Maistre. Herder thought the historical process was an education that would finally overcome the evils of the past and produce happy people everywhere. How far all these ideas are from Christianity, and their strange likeness on this score to the cancel culture of today, should be obvious.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Whenever the latest smog of nonsense belches from that platform, just say "Forget it Jake, it's Twittertown."

    You're welcome.

    ReplyDelete
  28. The Gnus who post here Paps, WCB and others are just mad

    The lot of them are absolute intellectual Nihilists.

    In the end reason means nothing to them. It's really is like a religious cult. Like Qonon or CRT.

    Weird.....

    They will eat themselves alive by their own madness.

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    Replies
    1. WCB

      All you have here is ad hominem attacks?

      Let us try again. lets us examine the claim God is not a moral agent.If God has ability to eliminate horrendous moral evil and does not do so, God acts as a moral agent. Just not a good moral agent.

      Trying to finesses the Problem Of Evil by stating God is not a moral agent, God owes us no moral obligations, does not work. That claims is self defeating. God cannot stop being a moral agent.

      The Bible, supposedly a revelation from God tells us God IS compassionate and God is merciful. Being merciful and being compassionate mean taking on moral obligations to have these sub-goodnesses. Down goes the proposition God owes us no moral obligations. Unless you are willing to deny the Bible is a revelation from God.

      Try again. No ranting. No ad hominems. No name calling. No diversions from these basic questions. No gas lighting.

      Hello lurkers! Can I get an Amen!

      WCB

      Delete
    2. WCB

      Ya'kov does not believe in the God of the Bible and Christianity, but a philosopher's God, only he does not see that and constantly conflates the two.

      In an earlier post here he stated that God was not morally good, but metaphysically and ontologically so, and that just as there is no world so good that he is obligated to create it, so there is none so bad that he is obligated to refrain from doing so. This may or may not be what Thomists think, but it is not THE Christian position, or what the great mass of Christians believe, and it is certainly not Biblical. As you have pointed out, in the Bible God is described quite straightforwardly as being good, loving, compassionate, merciful etc.

      So the problems you are having with Ya'kov ( other than those associated with his objectionable nature ) flow from the fact that you are talking past each other. He has escaped the kind of objections you are raising by
      retreating from the Biblical God. Fair enough if he wishes to promote a different God of the philosophers, but he really should stop delusionally identifying this God with YAHWEH.

      Delete
    3. Anon
      "Let us try again. lets us examine the claim God is not a moral agent.If God has ability to eliminate horrendous moral evil and does not do so, God acts as a moral agent. Just not a good moral agent."

      This is a rendition of the perennial, but yet to be satisfactorily answered by theists, Platonian Euryphro Dilemma:

      "..a thing is good because God says it is good, or does God say it’s good because it is good?"

      Of course, the only way theists have been able to respond to the challenge is simply to pencil in Divine Command Theory which basically means God can do whatever he bloody well likes, because He is omn-impotent.

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    4. Papalinton

      To be fair, some Christian theists split the horns of the Euryphro dilemma and say that the necessarily all loving character of God is the good,but then they have to invent endless theodicies in order to account for the reality of his creation. Others just abandon Biblical Christianity altogether like the Thomists.

      Delete
    5. WCB

      Again as Cantus said of you:

      "At this point I have to conclude that it's part of a deliberate strategy on your part that, whenever someone argues against something you said, that you simply say it again louder, and pretend that nobody ever responded to you."

      Even one of the Agnostics over at Strange Notions complained you just keep repeating yerself.

      Let me know how that works out for you. I am sure all the Classic Theist here find it convincing....not.

      Delete
    6. Unknown (who is likely WCB or Paps...but since they all have exactly the same lame arguments why not conflate them?)

      The God of the Bible and the God of the Philosophers and the God of the Catholic Church and the Jews is the same God. That God is not a moral agent.

      The problem is WCB & you wish to argue not against the God we in fact believe in but against the God you wished we believe in and well that is just mad.

      Delete
    7. Paps

      Actually that is not divine command theory according to Thomists but divine command theory according to Calvinists.

      Here Feser's response to Sterba. It addresse those issues.
      https://www.mdpi.com/journal/religions/special_issues/god_compatible_evil

      Feser also wrote about it on his blog.
      http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-obligation-and-euthyphro-dilemma.html

      Enjoy.

      Not that I think you will actually read it to the end and respond directly to it. Given yer past behavior over the decades you will simple respond with yer traditional argument ad populum.

      But in the response to Sterba he explains how God can't do what he wants to us even thought God is not a moral agent.

      Delete
  29. Miguel CervantesMay 3, 2021 at 12:33 AM

    Multiple-role playing in evidence at quite as number of places here. Pitiful to pay oneself compliments and laugh at one's own jokes. Sick to rubbish one's "own" beliefs.

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    Replies
    1. Cervanted 12.33AM

      I have not picked up on this multiple-role playing which you purport to see. Instead of being mysterious and sewing paranoia, how about telling us exactly what you are talking about, with evidence?

      Delete
    2. Correction 12.59AM

      Sowing paranoia - haha.

      Delete
  30. Miguel CervantesMay 3, 2021 at 2:10 AM

    Perhaps we can exaggerate the potential of a medium like the internet, and twitter in particular, to express one worldview or homogenise users. As was seen with generalised education, it did not eliminate the social and ideological differences that preceded it, but became a means and medium for their exacerbation. That said, twitter permits the silliest views to get a massive audience at once, whereas it once took months of work and the death of a herd of cattle just to produce a missal. Somehow, Twitter's productions don't seem set for the same longevity.

    ReplyDelete
  31. The toxic twitter meme is of course also related to the "cancel culture" phenomenon which is of course usually associated with those on the left side of the culture wars shouting match.
    That having been said why not check out the Salon essay by Paul Rosenberg titled:
    Conservatives Claim To Hate "cancel culture" - But its the Heart of the Right Wing Agenda.

    Meanwhile I find Papalintons posting to be a refreshing voice of sanity contra the self-righteous group-think that dominates this site.

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  32. WCB

    "So the problems you are having with Ya'kov ( other than those associated with his objectionable nature ) flow from the fact that you are talking past each other. He has escaped the kind of objections you are raising by
    retreating from the Biblical God. Fair enough if he wishes to promote a different God of the philosophers,...."
    - Unknown

    What I am doing here is demonstrating these Thomist propositions have serious problems, internal contradictions that preclude them from being true or logically coherent.

    I am not talking past him, but demonstrating why this position God is not a moral agent is false.

    It is a simple idea. An omnipotent God, defined as omnipotent, that can act and does not, acts as a moral agent by refusing to act.

    and God cannot be explicitly claimed to be compassionate and merciful, yet be claimed to have no moral obligations.

    JtS has also had other claims, God is not a person (Personalism bad!), God is impassible,etc.
    Then we have the problem of theological fatalism. If God has foreknowledge of the future, and the Bible explicitly claims God does, and creates all, then free will is impossible. God knows what that Universe he creates will be depending on what initial state of creation God chooses.
    God cannot escape responsibility for all horrendous moral evil in the Universe he chooses to create.

    We have multiple lines of evidence that the existence of moral evil is a serious problem for theology.

    WCB

    ReplyDelete