The Pragmatic Argument from Verisimilitude

What would life be like if God did not exist? If we found that such a life would be quite unlike our own lives as actually lived, that would be a pretty strong indication that atheism is false; that it disagrees with reality as we actually encounter it. Since God, if he exists, is by far – infinitely far – the biggest most important thing there is, our decision about whether he exists is the most important and far-reaching decision we can make in life. Thus if God exists, and we approached the question of his existence in the wrong spirit, it would be the worst mistake of our lives; as if we had spat on the Good King, but far, far worse; for the King in question would be the King of Everything.

It behooves us to approach the question in the right frame of mind, so that we are less likely to err in our thinking.

Part of approaching the question in the right spirit is being honest with ourselves about how things would be if God did not exist. To begin with a closed mind, or to beg the question and insist that nothing could be different if God did not exist, would be to cheat the whole project. But it is crucial to recognize that, in cheating the project, we would be hurting only ourselves.

What are the aspects of life that we are going to find most indicative? What, that is, are the things that might be quite different for us if there were no God? Well, what are the basic features of our lives?

  1. We feel that we exist. It may seem silly to begin with this notion, because it seems evident that we do exist. But everything depends on it: if we don’t exist, there’s no point talking about anything. And there are quite a few people who hold that we don’t exist.
  2. We feel that certain things are true, whether anyone knows about them or not. For example, we believe that the truths of mathematics are true in themselves; they were true before anyone figured them out, and they would still be true even if no one ever did. Not only that, but there is something in them that makes us feel that they must be true: that there is no possible way they could fail to be true.
  3. We have an impression that we can know things about the world. Not perfectly, to be sure. But none of us get out of bed in the morning and think, “there is no bed, really, and there is no morning.” No; we get out of bed, and go downstairs to make some coffee, trusting that our impressions of things are more or less on target. One of the worst experiences in life is to feel as though we have lost touch with reality, as when we are very sick with delirium. It is the stuff of nightmare.
  4. We feel that the world is basically orderly and intelligible; that it is a rational, coherent enterprise, and hangs together lawfully. Science hangs on this supposition, of course. But so does all animal life. A cat who had no confidence in the continued efficacy of gravity or the laws of mechanics would hesitate to jump from the table to the floor. If nature were not regular and lawful, or if we felt that its laws and regularities could not be apparent to us, we would not be able to form our actions at all, let alone engage in such activities as planning a trip to the store.
  5. We feel we can speak meaningfully to each other, and act accordingly. That is, we act as if we believe that we can refer to certain phenomena, and that other people will understand what we mean – they will understand the reference the same way, or nearly the same way, that we do, allowing of course for differences in our perspectives. This assumption is tightly linked to the last: if the world were not intelligible and regular, it would hardly be possible to say anything intelligent about it.
  6. We feel that some things are good or pleasant or beautiful, and others bad and painful, or just ugly. People have different tastes – some people love tomatoes, others hate them – but everyone has tastes. Tastes as such presuppose that things are more or less beautiful in and of themselves, and in fact, regardless what we might think about them. Only thus could people evaluate them differently from their different perspectives. No one would suggest that his enjoyment – or, for that matter, hatred – of the taste of beer has nothing to do with the objective reality of beer. Likewise also with the music of Mozart or the austere beauty of a desert landscape. It would be silly to suggest that when we apprehend beauty (or ugliness) in these things, we are apprehending something that is not real. If that were the case, then our aesthetic evaluations of experience could be of no help in guiding us through life, for they could be nothing but noise.
  7. We have a strong sense that some acts are right, just and fair, and others wrong, unjust, unfair. What is more we think some acts are great, admirable and noble, and others are base, nasty and despicable. Finally, we all feel that there are certain things one ought to do, and other things one ought not to do, in living life properly. We may say, “to each his own way,” but we all feel that we ourselves know of a way that we, at least, ought to live. Or, to the extent that we do not, we feel lost, disoriented, and more or less paralyzed – and so, depressed. As with aesthetic evaluations, we cannot but think our moral evaluations more or less veridical, if they are to be to us anything more than noise that, in justice (sic) we ought not (sic) to take seriously.
  8. We feel that our lives are important. At least, we value our own lives, and preferences, quite highly. If we did not, then it would be hard to see how we could muster any motivation to help ourselves  – not just by doing such prudent things as saving for a rainy day, but even by getting out of bed in the morning. If we did not feel our lives were somehow important – not just to ourselves, but in reality – then we could not reach the judgment that it was important to do anything to support them. This sense of our own importance could not suffice to motivate us unless we felt that we were important absolutely – that our lives and experiences were important, not just to ourselves, but to the world (whether or not the world seems to be aware of our importance). If we felt, deep down, that however important things seemed to us, we ourselves were in reality not the least bit important in the overall scheme of things, then there would be no reason to go on. If my importance is only a private illusion, and I know that it is, then the illusion cannot any longer have any power to influence me or sustain me, and I will act as if the illusion is false. That is, I will act as if I am totally unimportant. I will stop taking care of myself. Soon thereafter, I will be dead.

There may be other things that we should attend to, but this list will do for a start. Delete any one of these core presumptions of all human life and activity, and that activity is emptied of any reason or motivation, action stops – and then life stops. Whatever one might say to the contrary, the only way to live is to behave as if all these presuppositions were true.

Now notice that if there is no Truth, then all but the first item on the list are radically undermined – sapped so completely as to be thoroughly demolished. Except for the first, all the items on this list presuppose an objective Truth about reality, a Truth that holds whether or not any of us have yet discovered it, and to which our various opinions might then more or less correspond. Only if there is such a Truth might our opinions be either right or wrong.

Our opinions are notoriously prone to err. How not, since they are founded on limited knowledge and understanding? Practically the whole of human conversation is dedicated to driving out error in our opinions (so as to improve our coordination with the world and each other) by sharing information. It’s not a completable project. And this constraint holds also for any other perspective upon things that is anywise limited, or less than exhaustively comprehensive. Any finite understanding – anything less than omniscience – is by definition wrong, or at least ignorant, about something.

Notice now that if finite understanding were the only sort, then there could be nothing more authoritative than this finite erroneous creaturely opinion or that, and none of them finally dispositive of what is in fact real, or therefore True. There could in that case be no ultimate, absolute perspective that comprehends all things and knows all things as they are. If there is no such ultimate perspective, then there can be no Truth.

But if there is no Truth about x, then one of the statements that can’t be True is, “x exists.” But if “x exists” is not True, then x simply does not exist. And this would go for any x whatever. If there is no Truth, then, there is no being; no fact, that a statement or act might be about.

There being no Truth, verisimilitude would be a contradiction in terms – an impossibility. You can’t approximate what isn’t there in the first place. And where accuracy was impossible in principle, error too would be a vacuous term. Thus if our apprehensions and evaluations are to be even wrong, rather than all simply and completely illusory, they must be about something real that is True.

If there is no omniscient God, they can’t be; for only to omniscience can there be Truth, or therefore reality.

Looking back over the list above, it seems clear that if there is no God, and so no Truth, ergo no reality, or then any knowledge about it, then our impressions of importance, goodness, justice, beauty, order, honesty, knowledge, and even actuality – item one on the list – all go out the window. They disappear from reality, *absolutely.* But in that case, everything of human life is gone.

The nonexistence of God turns out to be incompatible with life as lived. Those who say they believe in it cannot act as if it is true and still live. Despite their avowals to the contrary, they must rather act as if God does after all exist, so that there is Truth, and so that in their mental operations and in their acts they can approximate to that Truth, and to the reality that can be founded only on that Truth. Thus their entire practical lives must consist of unprincipled exceptions. This means that they must constantly suffer a radical cognitive dissonance – or else, refrain from thinking insofar as they can. Cognitive dissonance is a sort of anxiety. Perhaps this is why unbelievers are generally somewhat less happy and healthy than believers.

Those who on the other hand have either a childlike or a sagacious trust that the deliverances of their apprehensions and evaluations have some real bearing and correspondence – howsoever defective – to things as they really are, and that their feelings, statements, acts and lives do actually mean something – are, i.e., both somehow fitly important in the overall scheme of things, and significant of supremely important realities in virtue of their participation therein – generally accept the belief in God that is implicit in this trust. They are not wrong to do so.

They are in fact right to do so. Not just because it will make them happier and healthier, along many dimensions, but because the fact that it will have these effects upon them indicates that their trust is true. It does not demonstrate that truth, of course, but only indicates it, by indicating the falsehood of its contrary; for, what cannot be carried into successful practice, what cannot meet the acid test of adequacy to quotidian life, cannot be true.

What I have here sketched is then no demonstration of God’s existence, but rather only an argument in support of it. Call it the argument from verisimilitude: if God did not exist, there could be no such thing as verisimilitude.

A convicted atheist might respond that God doesn’t exist, and carry on in the courage of his convictions to insist therefore also that there is indeed no such thing as verisimilitude. But if it be so, then we cannot be correct in so saying – or in any other saying, whatever. No verisimilitude, then nothing of our lives, at all.

It’s God’s Truth, or nothing.

98 thoughts on “The Pragmatic Argument from Verisimilitude

  1. Pingback: The Pragmatic Argument from Verisimilitude | Neoreactive

  2. Pingback: The Pragmatic Argument from Verisimilitude | Reaction Times

  3. ‘If there is no omniscient God, they can’t be; for only to omniscience can there be Truth, or therefore reality’

    Oh come on.

    existence exists – but it is blind and dumb, and its meaning is what we living creatures give it.

      • that makes no sense! “meaning is not its own”? what does that mean?

        it is true meaning is personally relative. and?

        listen, if i find something meaningful, exactly how is it not meaningful? because you don’t find the same thing meaningful?

        you actually QED jame’s point, not the other way round. we EACH find things in life that are meaningful. you thinking meaningfulness is not meaningful unless there’s some more meaningful meaning to “meaning” is to underscore the other point rather than your own.

        all your rebuttal entails is saying meaning has to mean something more than it does; for which, incidentally, there is precisely no other meaning than “meaningful”.

      • Finding something meaniningful is like finding something significant. Something can only be significant of something, if it points to a meaning beyond itself. It represents a thesis to be proved. If not, it’s literally meaningless. Can a meaningless locution or sensation be meaningful? Steven, can we begin by at least trying to be rational?

      • i thought i was being rational.

        you know, i find huck finn and metamorphosis very meaningful. now other than my own experience, what does “meaning” mean, what is meaningful about those fictions that literally do no signify anything in reality?

        now, as i try to be rational, i ask that you try to refrain from being condescending because that’s not going to get us very far, eh.

      • The stuff we make up should cut reality at the joints. I have a short story on this topic.

        A creationist, an evolutionist, and a Darwinist were walking in the woods

        They saw a patch of flowers.

        “Why are these flowers beautiful?” asked the creationist rhetorically.

        “OK” said the evolutionist, “Why?”

        “For the joy of God and man,” said the creationist.

        “No” said the evolutionist, “Beauty is subjective, in the observer, not in the flower, and nothing in nature has any purpose. It just is.”

        “No,” said the Darwinist. “These flowers must be pollinated by a creature that drinks nectar by daylight, probably a bee, and the flowers are beautiful to please the bee, as a woman is beautiful to please her husband.”

        “That is sexist,” said the evolutionist, “and why should bees care about beauty?”

      • The stuff we make up should cut reality at the joints.

        Sure. But for that to work, reality must truly have joints. If there are no such joints, our cuts won’t work out, ever. But they generally do. It looks a lot more as if we are *discovering* where the joints are than making stuff up.

      • ummm, i think you’re a bit literal as “joints” and “core” are exchangeable in what james is saying. it’s called personification. here, he’s talking about perspectival interpretation.

      • Meaningfulness is a quality of propositions; that is why propositions have truth values. A traditional work of art has as its meaning a referent on another ontological level; this is why an orthodox icon is the door that connects heaaven and earth. If you would like to be clear in your nominalism, just be honest and say, instead of “this work is meaningful (though this doesn’t mean it’s full of any meaning I can explain), be honest and say, “this work gives me a warm fuzzy feeling in my solar plexus.” If you do, your statement will be subjective and free from the demand that you make sense.

      • interesting. i would think the enterprise of propositions was to help us think clearly to discover what the case is, what it true.

        the only reason propositions have truth values is because there is either a case with x or there is not a case with x and this has nothing to do with meaning at all. and too, not all propositions entail truth-values; metaphysical propositions being one example, or another being siginfiers without a signified (see heidegger).

        how exactly am i not being honest in my use of “meaning”? in every way a piece of art can be meaningful, including warm fuzzy feelings, i find art to be … and this is not a nominal enterprise. i experience something numinous in some art. but unless you do the honest thing instead of nominally fiating some other source of meaning aside from the ontological make up of the art itself and my reactions to it, i fail to see how that’s more than a conclusory naming of some ethereal “big other” reified, be that meaning, be that truth, or be that god.

        guernica certainly has meaning and none of it warm and fuzzy.

      • I know I have little patience with nominalism, the university tends to do that to a Realist. I agree with A.K. Coomaraswamy when he says: If now the orthodox doctrines reported by Plato and the East are not convincing, this is because our sentimental generation, in which the power of the intellect has been so perverted by the power of observation that we can no longer distinguish the reality from the phenomenon, the Person in the Sun from his sightly body, or the uncreated from electric light, will not be persuaded “though one rose from the dead.”

      • i’m no nominalist because i clearly do not think predicates exist and so i likewise do not suggest the signified of them exist; which is the definition of nominalism.

        i’m saying words describe things and not all the things they describe exist in reality, and in some cases, we cannot tell if signifiers have a signified. this is continental and pragmatic and the bulk of modern results from the analytics and linguists from the past 100+ years of studying epistemological problems that emerge as the obvious “neurath’s boat”.

      • “be honest and say, “this work gives me a warm fuzzy feeling in my solar plexus.” If you do, your statement will be subjective and free from the demand that you make sense.”

        Bingo. And in a strange way, we can link this to Utilitarianism. Utilitarians constantly speak of their moral systems designed to promote “human happiness”. They never say, “we are advocates for dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins” because then the question is, why not just strap everyone into reefer-sleep and bombard them with those chemicals?

      • bingo, what?

        subjective is not the opposite of objective and all statements entail subjectivity while not all entail objectivity, and, all meaning is subjective while some meaning is objective.

        making sense has nothing to do with subjectivity or objectivity; that’s a mistaken thinking. making sense is merely that one say rational things, and certainly i can state rationally why i find wiping dust off of my car’s dashboard meaningful while perhaps anyone would also agree doing that is something meaningful to them. culture is exactly identical to my wiping down my dash and others appreciating a uniform layer of dust.

      • By denying the existence of predicates, you are denying the possibility of thought. As we know, a sound argument has a valid form and true premises. If predicates do not exist, no statement can be true, hence no argument can be sound. Since knowledge is not of particulars, vide Aristotle, in what, under the rubrics of your rather watery gruel of Positivism and Existentialism, does knowledge consist?

      • the present king of france is french.

        the predicate does not exist.

        and if you were familiar at all with philosophy, you wouldn’t mistake my clearly anti realism for positivism.

        you’re a real gem, prig!

      • Since “existence exists” is a quote from Ayn Rand’s Objectivist Epistemology, perhaps we should all silently meditate on what this profound sounding nonsense has to teach us. Philosophy by koan really just makes you want to hear the sound of one hand slapping the crap out of philosophical dilettantes, or is it just me.

      • To be as fair as possible to Rand, I believe that her “existence exists” was meant to say that reality is definite, and things have definite natures, properties and meanings. The opposite of what jamesd127 meant.

      • In graduate school the philosophy department gave Hedegger his due by using Being and Time as a doorstop. Forgive my low opinion of Miss Rand, but I think the proper way to give her her due would involve the pages of her work being attached to a cardboard roll and then being put in a place of honor in the men’s room.

    • existence exists – but it is blind and dumb, and its meaning is what we living creatures give it.

      How did meaning get inside us living creatures? Are we not part of existence?

      • Hah! Just so, Dr. Bill.

        Of course, if the meaning of things is *only* what we creatures give it, then it is, precisely, not what we have always meant by “meaning,” but something or other – hard to say what it is, exactly – that is in reality meaningless.

      • “Meaningless meaning” is what Jamesd127 refers to. “Meaningful meaning” is what we—and other normal people—refer to.

        “Meaningless meaning” is also generally “Meaning that I don’t like.”

        Update: Dr. Bill was actually responding to Jamesd127 [I believe that’s James Donald], not Mr. Hoyt, as I first thought.

      • “Of course, if the meaning of things is *only* what we creatures give it, then it is, precisely, not what we have always meant by “meaning,” but something or other – hard to say what it is, exactly – that is in reality meaningless.”

        This is what I have been trying to get across

  4. a lot of “feeling” going on there.

    we know we exist. mathematicians do not think math is true; it is an axiomatic language with the grammar of tautology. no one should think the universe is rational; it doesn’t reason and is ordered more than less.

    a brute fact is a real phenomenon for which no underlying explanation can be found using more facts; keep that in mind.

    facts are all apparent. for instance, it is a fact the sky is blue when the sky is blue, and a fact that the sky is not blue when it is blue. we know what we mean in saying “the sky is blue”, and we know too, that color does not exist. both are facts and saying whether the sky is blue or not blue when it is are both true statements as well. keep this in mind too.

    c.s. peirce in “four incompatibilities” criticizes cartesian doubt, as do other analytics, in saying we have beliefs and start with bias in looking at new things we could believe. more than any other thing we could justify, “i exist” is it. to suggest we may be wrong without a good reason is not justified; belief and doubt must be justified. we may of course change our minds on anything if we have reason to do so, but this is because we have reason to do so. the third thing to keep in mind.

    from all of this, the brief but obvious failure in this article’s line of thinking is this:

    from our perspective, all facts we have entail to other facts and eventually we’ll hit the bedrock of brute facts; such as “i exist” or “reality exists”, etc.. and from our perspective, god is not a brute fact but a response attempting to explain on; such as “why anything at all?”

    given this, it is exactly a matter of fact that any phenomenon will either be explainable or be a truism we just can’t get at and all attempts to are metaphysical speculations. god is exactly a metaphysical speculation which cannot be true or false because god can only be supposed or not supposed.

    it is a logical certainty that if there is a god, the world is as we find it. if there is no god, it is a logical certainty the world is as we find it. this is because the world, as we find it, is the brute fact, not god.

    a final note, truth is not to be reified. it is not a thing. truth is a label for beliefs which are justified. to simply fiat it exists mind-independently is odd. how would one prove it? well, we’d begin to justify it. this means exactly what i just defined; justified belief.

    there are absolute truths, and, they are all trivial. they tell us nothing about the world. first is truism, which i already mentioned. second and third i’ve mentioned too. axioms are true by definition and tautology is true by form. both are simply ways of formally speaking. all truths that claim to purport something about reality are deliberated truths; facts, evidence, the languages of logic and maths, all ways to justify something believed true about the world; something we think is the case.

    anyway, the world is exactly as it is. this is obvious; a brute fact. there may be a god. there may not be. but, god is what is dubious, not the world.

    • “but, god is what is dubious, not the world.”

      By your perception, but not necessarily by everyone’s. The world could very easily be illusory. ‘brute fact’ does not explain anything. It’s an easy get-out, worse than god-of-the-gaps. I perceive my experience of God to be just as real as my experience of the physical world. And it would be far easier a task for God to give me an illusory experience of the world than the world to give me an illusory experience of God.

      Subjective meaning is no meaning. The value judgment placed upon anything by one individual cannot be judged in relation to other people’s value judgments without a reference point. Thus, it is meaningful only so much as it aligns with a true meaningfulness. You fail to understand the difference between ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’. In labeling an ice cream, ‘chocolate’ would be a useful and accurate descriptive. ‘tasty’ would not be. ‘tasty’ has no objective, descriptive value. The ice cream is only ‘tasty’ in relation to whoever is tasting it. If no people existed, the ice cream would not be ‘tasty’. It would still be ‘chocolate’ however.

      What we can say, is that if meaning is only determined by the value of meaning which we place upon it, your entire argument could be dismissed simply by others stating that it was meaningless. You could not dispute its meaninglessness using any objective standard.

      • are you saying that god, like reality, can be tested? it’s one thing to perceive god but another to suggest it is material. i don’t tend to argue people’s perceptions since the perception itself isn’t genuinely testable … which is my point. but if you’re saying god is an observable fact of the matter, i’d wonder what test we’d devise. it’s an epistemological question.

        objective and subjective are not opposites. objective in epistemology simply means not left to personal opinion, not all assertions are equal. opinions too, can be objective however.

        the standard test of objectivity is whether or not, given the same information and so on, a perfectly rational person would think the assertion at least justified, believable, whether or not they themselves would also believe it. this is the very basis of judicial systems using juries.

        there’s no sense in saying some sentence is “accurate” since like flying an arrow and judging accuracy is knowing beforehand where the bullseye is. like kant, accuracy only indicates we’re saying something about how well our sentences comport to cognition through the process of cognizing (critique of pure reason) and like neitzsche, reason is the problem rather than perceptive sensory failure.

        if you understand father herbert mccabe or norm geisler or wittgenstein or russell, then you know why not all signifiers have a signified, such as “the present king of france”. as theologians do say “god” is such a signifier whether or not there is a god to signify. truth and meaning are the same way. for instance, i can say all kinds of things true of the present king of france (such as his being french) yet there is no present king of franch. or again, the sky is not blue but it is a fact that it is when it is; because we know and agree to what i mean when i say “the sky is blue” and whether or not the sky appears blue when i assert it; an example of objective truth, by the way.

        the value of meaning can be objective too, such as the numinous experience of the grand canyon; but not all folks have that experience. not all people will find the same meaning in my daughter’s birth or my wife’s death or why i find impressionistic art or “the void within the void” meaningful.

        truth and meaning do not require some “ultimate” or mind-independent, cosmic sense to them. objectivity is merely that we can intersubjectively agree; not through group-think, but that we all generally as human beings don’t feel vastly different about things and don’t generally reason differently, and that there are different meanings and different beliefs is from the fact that we have different experiences and facts and perceptions. this perfectly accounts for the fact truth must be deliberated because if there were mind-independent truths and meanings, we could simply appeal to those to resolve disagreements. instead, we have to convince others using reason and reasons. reason to assert, relying on the idea we all generally think the same way, is what makes intersubjective agreement a sign of objectivity. one doesn’t need any other idea of “objective” in order to apply it and be objective. all ideas are subjective and where the belief is justified aside from just our opinion alone, it is objective as well.

      • we can doubt there are gods with objectivity but we cannot easily make a case we or reality do not exist. that you can’t image either existing without a god doesn’t actually give a reason for anyone to think there are gods.

      • i’ll add a case in point here:

        i can agree to first cause arguments. i can fully agree that if we accept as true that something cannot come from nothing and that if the universe is itself not eternal, then something else must be eternal.

        that’s a logically necessary conclusion; meaning we cannot have any other conclusion given those premises. it’s a valid argument.

        if we want to say it is a sound argument as well, then we need to deduce from something in the world; such as a fact like time has a beginning, as hawking once believed. or like krauss in “a universe from nothing”, noting through observation that philosophical, theological, absolute nothing is impossible (which is exactly confirmation, something is eternal). so here, we have a sound argument, but no longer a necessary conclusion.

        if the universe has no boundaries, as hawking now says, then the universe itself can be eternal and nothing else need be.

        two things now make god genuinely dubious. 1) the universe may in fact be eternal, but if not, 2) first cause may not be volitional, and 3) there are more than one conclusions that can be drawn from the same premises. 4) if we take general observations as the points of inference, then “like produces like” and “complexity arises from simpler states” and then via the principle of parsimony, it is a valid and sound and more reasonable thing to infer first cause is not volitional, is infinitely more simple that an eternal being that creates as less complex world than himself, and created a material world that is wholly unlike himself, a world he transcends.

        that is to say there are reasonable grounds to think there is a god and reasonable ground to think there are none. and so, god is a dubious idea whether one is asserting their existence or denying it. that all depends of what seems reasonable to us, and this is largely based on how each of us is geared and how we perceive our experiences.

      • i should say that from the onset, “god is what is dubious, not the world” followed by “by your perception, but not necessarily by everyone’s” actually just makes my case that since there is legitimate doubt about one but not the other, then by definition, god is dubious, not the world.

        i have no doubt that many people do not doubt there is a god, but do not know anyone who genuinely doubts they exist or that reality exists.

        and yes, brute fact do not explain anything aside from the facts they explain. we may not explain why we exist but can explain why what existing is like, for example. this is exactly what i already said. i said too that when we offer explanations for brute facts, we are metaphysically speculating; string theory as much as the gods.

      • Your fault is in assuming that your tests of reality are real. No matter how you slice it, you must make a blind leap of faith. You must assume something which cannot be proven. You must assume the reality of whatever instrument you are using to test whether something is real or not. You must also, as in any test, assume cause and effect are real. Are they real just because you observe them? And you can test your observations are real by what method?

        When you say ‘mind-independent’ ideas, are you including God’s mind? God’s mind is the objective mind, by definition, since he has the great-making property of omniscience. You are not omniscient, and thus when you place meaning in something, perhaps you are right, and perhaps you are wrong, but you will either be right or wrong, depending on how your placement of value aligns with that placed by the mind of God.

        God decrees the life of your fellow man to be meaningful, it is no triviality. You could deem it not to hold any meaning, using ALL KINDS of rationalizations and reason, the same kind of cold and calculating reason used by every genocidal maniac in history. However, in the end, God would be right and you would be wrong. You automatically lose any difference in view from God, because He sees the world both as it objectively is, and as it objectively should be.

        You have said it makes no sense for things to have inherent meaningfulness. This depends on what you mean by ‘inherent’. I would define that which God finds meaningful to be objectively meaningful. The things I find meaningful are for the most part subjectively meaningful, unless I find meaning in something which God also finds. This is the pursuit of truth in meaning. It is the pursuit of God’s mind.

        You might want to think you can argue with God and win, but you can’t. And doubting His existence is your own prerogative. I think most here though would say it was… unwise.

      • mark, i want to thank you, by the way, for offering counter points that matter.

        can i ask how you would say there is nothing meaningful in my love of origami? of course that has nothing to do with other people being reference points and whether or not they’ll find it meaningful too. but the question is whether or not i find origami meaningful and i am the only reference point that matters? i mean, you could certainly gather 3,000 people together who say in unison that origami is not meaningful, but that alone doesn’t suggest in itself that origami is not meaningful or meaningful to me.

        with meaning, you’re right, there isn’t any reference point which guarantees meaning; which is exactly what zizeck explains in “the idiot’s guide to ideology.”

        what guarantees meaning if there is one or many reference point? that a group of folks agree? that’s the verisimilitude of human beings, not a suggestion meaning has any other basis.

        ice cream is what it is. the naming of it being “tasty” is relative to experience. the naming of it as “chocolate” is no different than the naming of it as “ice cream”. the truth of “chocolate” is only nominological. it is a way to say that where we could apply these terms “chocolate” we can adequately distinguish between using the term in one instance rather than another; such as “vanilla” or “frog”.

        there certainly are objects in the world which are distinguishable, but no real point of reference but the object itself which we talk about. we have to be careful in making ontological claims thinking or nominalistic activities equate to ontological statements conflated with “ding an sich” … lest we say ontologically, the sky obviously has an attribute of “blueness” when come to find out, color doesn’t exist at all and the true thing we’ve said about blue skys is merely perceptual nominalism.

  5. The Pragmatic Argument About “God”

    1) “God” exists in the human vocabulary.
    2) Human reason is restricted by vocabulary.
    3) God transcends the human vocabulary.
    4) Therefore:
        a) “God” in the human vocabulary has no referent.
        b) All God-narratives are metaphysical sentences.
        c) God-narratives are only meaningful (not true or false).

    Can we talk about God at all and know what we mean, or should we know what we mean when we talk about “God”?


    Fr. Herbert McCabe, God Matters, pg 6

    A.J. Ayer, Language, Truth And Logic, pg 117

    Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume 1, pg 615

    George Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God, pg 26

  6. i’ll throw you a bone from aquinas, ibn rushd, and philosophical epistemology.

    “place” is the predicate for all thought. who we are, where we are, where and who we’ve been and all we want to be is contingent to the reality we experience. we cannot imagine even in abstraction something we’ve never experienced.

    god is then a logical certainty as being a necessary idea that comes to our mind.

    there may be a god, but he cannot be directly known. what we apprehend is based on “place”, so either there is a god and there is something we’re supposed to gain just in wrestling with the question “what is god and why should god matter?” or there is no god and the brute fact is that we are highly anthropomorphic thinkers. and while i believe something like a god exists, it is a brute fact that we create him in our image, and, this is exactly what god intended; all else being literally incoherent as a counter, given god’s primary definition is incomprehensibility.

  7. Kristor:

    Modern people see themselves as God: the only meaning things have is the meaning these little keyboard gods give to them. They don’t disbelieve in God; they just, incoherently, believe themselves to be God.

    Your commenters demonstrate this quite effectively while, ironically, missing the meaning of their own contentions.

  8. little keyboard gods and the rest of the condescension? and as he said “your commenters”, i am among them. and as it is, i would say the same thing even if i wasn’t included. that kind of commentary needs redress no matter to whom it’s aimed.

    • He didn’t direct anything at you personally. If the shoe fits, wear it boldly. Evidently, so far as we can yet tell, Mr. Prig felt no concern that the shoe in question might be his. If it isn’t yours either, why should you feel concerned? Perhaps because you feel Zippy has misread you, taking you for a modern nominalist when in fact you are not. Has he? Perhaps all you need to do then is explain yourself a bit more clearly.

      That’s what I would urgently want to do, if an essentialist mistook me for a nominalist.

      • meaning by definition is not trivial, and this has no implication that meaning is universal or mind-independent. after all, sex is nothing on the one hand and everything on the other, bases solely on how you personally value sex. it makes no sense to say things have inherent meaningfulness.

        i value not being insulted. i’m sure that since we all generally don’t like being insulted, it’s an objective meaningfulness, not trivial, yet some don’t mind insults at all … because of how they’re geared.

        the fact is that we can hardly say zippy is not trying to be insulting, and then rather pedantic to say his conduct is acceptable since he didn’t name anyone. were there no policy on profanity, then i could say some people here are dumbasses, and since i didn’t name anyone specifically, then everything is ok.

        to have a rule about insults is great, how else can meaningful dialogue happen? but if that is the goal of the rule, then any insults must be redressed or meaningful dialogue is abruptly ended.

        there has been one commenter actually trying to make counter points and the rest have simply invoked rhetorical dismissal, a logical fallacy and everything but intelligent.

        You wrote in your initial comment that existence is trivial. Since consciousness infers meanings from existentials, how could meanings be other than trivial? Again, if insults, such as the one that you inferred, only implicate existentials, which are on your terms trivial, why bother even to notice, or imagine, an insult? But, of course, everyone reverts to rhetorical dismissal except you. (TFB)

  9. In the rough and tumble of the blogosphere, most people are not trained phllosophers and so ad hominems are going to fly and rules against personal insults will help make the discussions less acrimonious, they will never be able to shield us from all perceived personal attacts. Whenever I find myself offended by something on the boards (which happens quite often), I step back and tell myself to stop being a big girl’s blouse. It doesn’t always work, and I have replied under the influence of some passion or other, but the embarassment I experience after gives me more reason to man up.

  10. It isn’t an ad hominem though to observe that certain positions are incoherent and self-destruct. For that matter, it isn’t an ad hominem to call an ass (to appropriate a term) an ass. It is only an ad hominem to dismiss the arguments of an ass, not on their own demerits qua argument, but because he is an ass.

    It isn’t insulting (except to the extent that pointing out error is always insulting) to point out that keyboard gods don’t actually disbelieve in God qua source of meaning, they just put themselves in His place vis-a-vis meaning. That’s what claiming that all meaning comes from us qua subjects, um, means. Whether we like it or not. Like all real things the meaning of that particular contention is not exhausted by our own thoughts, perceptions, and preferences about it.

    I suppose Mr Hoyt though is, on his own terms, as the source and summit and nexus of all meaning, warranted in assigning a meaning of personal insult to pretty much any proposition. You can’t argue with God.

    • Zippy, you’re right. Attacking any position, however colorfully, is not an ad hominem. Neither is pointing out that holding certain positions as beyond criticism is a sure sign of Invincible Ignorance, however colorfully this may be pointed out.

      • AP:
        For that matter, even saying “you hold this position, therefore you are an ass” isn’t an ad hominem. Characterizing the man based on the positions he holds isn’t dismissing an argument because of the man.

    • it would do you well to demonstrate in some way some point i’ve made that is coherent.

      by way of example: god is incomprehensible, but i know god.

      that is incoherent because the two terms are opposite claims that purport a state of affairs for one thing and for the same property; ie violates LNC.

  11. mark, what blind leap of faith? the tests are practical and have usable outcomes; i don’t think i need to list what we enjoy now that began as a testable idea, do i? there’s no faith at all because the initial idea is put forward skeptically and only held true if there are justified reasons to think it true. it’s not blind nor is it faith.

    i have nothing to say about god’s mind because god is dubious and has to have good reason to think does exist and is something which has a mind.

    so, that something is meaningful to me is tautologously, absolutely true; what i find meaningful, i find meaningful. what you can’t seem to shake is this idea that things can’t be meaningful if that is all meaningful entails.

    i don’t define god because 1) god is incomprehensible, 2) god-talk is anthropomorphic (agreeing with even conservative theologians, like geisler), and 3) god is not demonstrable; only supposed or not supposed through inference biased by experience and interpretation in both cases.

    to be sure, i’m arguing with you, not with any god, and what accords to your thinking cannot be what any god would put forward, because it is illogical (if god is a logical, rational being). and given that i have stated i’m a christian, you can cut the idea that i doubt anything more than poor thinking about god.

    i wish you would actually counter such that, “because x, y may not or cannot be true” for i have explained in detail every point clearly and your rejoinders have all been repetition of previous, unsupported fiats with no examples or have been “how can you be sure?” and “you may be wrong!”

    well of course i can be wrong! my epistemology is consistent in that all truths about reality are deliberated (QED, why else would there be tests and debates!) and truth can only be said to be justified belief. relying on “reason to assert”, my answer is clear:

    i could be wrong but i have no reason to believe i am and you’re giving me none that would make me think i am, though i would if you did since i’m a perfectly rational person; the kind that will only believe what is most reasonable, most justified thing to believe because i want to know what the case is for any x.

    and why am i sure? am i sure? certainty is psychology, not epistemology but none the less, since i have good reason to believe this versus that, i am certain i have more reason to believe one thing more than another, though my confidence level in any belief may still be very low even still.

    and listen, you telling me about god, his mind, desires, et. al. are not more than you making comments about “the present king of france” … they may indeed be perfectly true, but they neither imply there is any god at all any more than france has a king. that’s all circular reasoning.

    the fact is, until a god is proven, until god can be comprehended, the parsimonious response is that verisimilitude in being human among humans is what accounts for shared meanings of experience or objectivity in propositions with truth-values. why? because all the facts needed to explain meaning and truth are not brute facts and are entailed entirely in our ability to account for them and based on them; hence, objective.

    as for private meanings and truths? they only need one point of reference and that is the self. god is such a meaning and truth which is why it is a matter of faith. and like all metaphysical propositions, they have no truth-value and are offered merely because they can be meaningful. god is exactly that kind of idea … though christian, modern apologetics is a denial of faith, mystery, and incomprehensibility, which is to say a heresy in the whole of christian tradition and only existing today in the most minute and rare theology on the whole; evangelicalism. that started after the enlightenment because science left us exactly without a need for faith as it gave very, very meaningful things to say about reality and evangelicals, particularly starting in the 1850s felt threatened the may only have faith after all and did not want their beliefs to have to comport with evidence; YECs today being perfect examples. but i digress …

    “I’m a perfectly rational person.” Really? “Perfectly”? Isn’t “perfectly” a metaphysical adverb, inexorably so?

    “Something [that] is meaningful to me is tautologously, absolutely true.” Really? “Absolutely”? Whence comes, given that nothing is metaphysical, on your terms, but everything is only physical (“existent”), that absolute quality? Are you absolute, so that you can endow absolution on anything or everything? How would that comport with your merely existential status – I mean, as a trivial existent, than which there is, on your terms, none other? Isn’t the adjective “absolute” metaphysically absolute?

    “God is dubious.” But you are not “dubious”? Not ever?

    “Certainty is psychology.” I.e., anyone is Napoleon who says so.

    “Science left us exactly without a need for faith.” Really? How did it do that – exactly?

    “The fact is, until a god is proven, until god can be comprehended, the parsimonious response is that verisimilitude in being human among humans is what accounts for shared meanings of experience or objectivity.” “Until” implies a deficiency. What are you doing to make good that deficiency? Insofar as you acknowledge the deficiency and are doing nothing to make it good, why should we pay any adult attention to you?

    You have a amazing lot of faith in yourself. (TFB)

    PS. I have typographically tucked in your shirt-tails and tightened the Double-Windsor around your collar. It was nifty and way kewl when Mr. Cummings typographically let his shirt-tails hang out and disdained the Double-Windsor, but now it is a hoary cliche, the sign of an absolute and über-outdated conformist. The Orthosphere has a dress-code. (TFB)

    With a a hearty “right on, bro’,” to Zippy! (TFB)

    • You are complicating the issue with no reason to do so. I have two basic assertions to counter the points you have made.

      1) Your claim about the real world being testable is only true if you are sure that you can distinguish illusion from reality. You point to the outcomes of tests. These outcomes may be illusory! How would you know? You cannot know, but we must assume that they are not in order to make any sense of anything. Philosophy of science seems very clear, science only works with certain presuppositions about the world already in place, the key one being the reality of the physical world. On this unprovable assumption, all of our worldly knowledge rests. We must take on faith that God (or some created being) are not in fact making things appear to be in our eyes which are actually an illusion.

      2) You continue to say “meaningful to me” and this is the crux of the matter.

      “meaningful to me”

      is not


      You think these statements are analogous, but your use of the first, which contains more words than the second, belies your subconscious understanding that they are not the same. Your origami class is meaningful to you. Is it meaningful to someone 3000 years ago? No. Both are measures of subjective value, which is why they can contradict. You find your origami class meaningful, a peasant in India 1000 BC does not.

      What I am asserting, and I think this is Kristor’s point in general, though he can correct me if I have gone astray, is that meaningfulness does have an objective dimension as well, this being that which is apprehended by God (the one omniscient and supremely perfect mind). If he views your origami class as meaningful (let us say that perhaps you were converted to Christianity because of someone you met at the class), then it is objectively meaningful.

      I’d say that “your subjective meaningfulness is not necessarily objectively meaningful”.

      Zippy is correct in saying that your extrapolation of your subjective attribution of meaning to actually infuse meaning is to put ourselves in God’s place. Now this is a delusion, one of grandeur.

      Your slander against apologetics is also unwarranted. Catholicism and Orthodoxy have both featured apologetics work since their inception. It was a hallmark of early Christianity. Islam has used it as well. It is not some bug of Evangelicism. To say it is a ‘heresy’ is beyond bizarre. I have heard no priest ever say this, nor any other Christian for that matter.

      • 1) i have no reason to doubt reality is real and that it could be has no bearing on what we say about it either way. casting unjustified doubt, ie because it’s possible we can’t say we know what we know, is not a rational counter. yes, i could be wrong … the point is, what reasons exists that make me ought to think so. you’ve given none.

        2) meaningful means meaningful! meaningful to me is merely a context, a point of reference; an observer observing. i have to ask, how is it that something is in fact meaningful to me and you tell me i can’t find it meaningful unless someone else, you or god, says so? it may be a grievous sin i find meaningful, but none the less and irrespective of what others think, it is still meaningful to me.

        3) i’m slanderous of kinds of apologetics; say sproul, turek, stobel, ravi, etc. obviously not all since i reference aquinas above many times. i also reference ibn rushd and maimonides so it can’t be said i have some objection to apologetics in general.

        if you would like to be a protestant apologist, most definitely, that’s a heresy, or if you’d like to be a wesleyan apologist, certainly you’re twice heretical; once to the roman catholic and twice to calvin. what i said there is only that the modern apologist is counter to all the historic beliefs and thinking of the church; apprehensibility versus comprehensibility, mystery and faith versus certitude in seeking to dispel faith, etc.. don’t read into it more than what i’ve said.

      • and, god does not apprehend. god knows. we do not know god. we apprehend … and so our god-talk is always dubious even if by some means, we knew the gods definitely existed.

      • As men, we are amphibious beings, living both in the world of matter and the world of splrit. The opinions we have about the empirical world may be more or less useful, but inductive reasoning can never give us truth. The knowledge we have about the realm of spirit, i.e. axiological and metaphysical judgments, comes exclusively by revelation. By revelation I mean three realated means of knowledge: 1. the statements of an omniscient person, 2. the direct experience of supernatural states of affairs through religious discipline (yoga), 3. analogical reasoning from the material to the spiritual (natural theology). Mr. Hoyt seems to beleve that we are only bodies, incapable of knowledge. Perhaps Mr. Hoyt should spend more time with philosophers, e.g. Plato, Plotinus, and less with sophists, e.g. Heiddeger, Wittgenstein.

      • ” casting unjustified doubt”

        It is you who casts unjustified doubt, for you doubt God. What reason exists to make me ought to think God is not real? You have given none. See how that works?

        I never said you can’t find it meaningful. You can do whatever you like. I don’t care. I’m talking about objectivity, grounded in God. There is nothing dubious about Christian theology and its discussion here. I have yet to see any reason given by you or anyone else that throws doubt upon Christian truth, just as you have seen no reason to doubt the existence of the physical world. So, you’ll forgive me when I say that I am just as sure of God as I am of the computer I type these words into.

      • i have given justification for both doubting and believing. i did both using first cause. the point isn’t that i have to change your mind. it is to show good reason to doubt.

        one of which is there is no way to logically necessitate volition in any first cause.

        Sure there is. The thesis is named God. (TFB)

        see how that works?

        there being grounding for meaning only entails reasons we find something meaningful. god isn’t any reason to find anything meaningful. though god may be a meaningful framework to work from in finding some existential meaningfulness.

      • too, i’m not claiming anything about how valid christianity is. i’m only saying none of the things mentioned in the article require or imply god is necessary in some way for things to be as they are.

      • so we’re editing other people’s comments now?

        whomever wrote “sure there is. the thesis named god. (tfb)”, go on ahead then and state the premises that lead to a necessary conclusion first cause is volitional.

        Thomas F. Bertonneau writes: Guests at The Orthosphere must observe their obligations under the Rules of Hospitality. They may not come swaggering in to tell us that we know not what we’re about or that we’re all philosophical freshmen – while expecting us to license their misbehavior. Intervening in your comments is a way of reminding you by a rebuke that you are in our house, not yours.

        So saying [Athena] bound on her glittering golden sandals, imperishable, with which she can fly like the wind over land or sea; she grasped the redoubtable bronze-shod spear, so stout and sturdy and strong, wherewith she quells the ranks of heroes who have displeased her, and down she darted from the topmost summits of Olympus, whereon forthwith she was in Ithaca, at the gateway of Ulysses’ house, disguised as a visitor, Mentes, chief of the Taphians, and she held a bronze spear in her hand. There she found the lordly suitors seated on hides of the oxen which they had killed and eaten, and playing draughts in front of the house. Men-servants and pages were bustling about to wait upon them, some mixing wine with water in the mixing-bowls, some cleaning down the tables with wet sponges and laying them out again, and some cutting up great quantities of meat.

        Telemachus saw her long before any one else did. He was sitting moodily among the suitors thinking about his brave father, and how he would send them flying out of the house, if he were to come to his own again and be honoured as in days gone by. Thus brooding as he sat among them, he caught sight of Minerva and went straight to the gate, for he was vexed that a stranger should be kept waiting for admittance. He took her right hand in his own, and bade her give him her spear. ‘Welcome,’ said he, ‘to our house, and when you have partaken of food you shall tell us what you have come for.’ (Odyssey, Book I)

      • my context is wordpress, so if that feed is from a linked blog, i’m not going to know who “we” are.

        Another entry in the report of your rudeness and incivility. (TFB)

    • prig, a “perfectly rational person” in epistemology has a meaning and i gave it.

      yes, absolutely true because it has the grammar of tautology; x is y and y is x is absolutely true, as is “something meaningful to me is meaningful to me”. when ignorant on a topic, it’s best to just keep your mouth shut.

      god is a dubious idea an this is because you have valid reasons to believe and valid reasons to doubt; the answer is not obvious, ie a fact of the matter.

      certainty is psychology, yes. it would serve you well to at least read *some* philosophy to know i’m not saying anything new or controversial.

      “until” doesn’t denote deficiency, it denotes a moment in the future.

      AP, on another note, realize i have no pretences. my name is steven hoyt and i am online as i am in person; transparent. when you pick for your alternate ego for a pseudo presona online and name it “arrogant prig” then continually live up to its meaning, what are we to guess but that your a child who has no intention of owning his words or guarding them or even be genuine with yourself or others?

      i wonder.

      • “my name is steven hoyt and i am online as i am in person; ”

        I’ll grant you that. You are marginally more respectable than “a.morphous.” On the other hand, quite like “a.morphous,” holding no dissenting positions that might rankle the majority, and being perfectly homogeneous with the great blanc-mange of dogmatic relativism, you run no risk of alienating yourself from any institution, which others who contribute to this site do. And it is no trivial risk.

        – Thomas F. Bertonneau

      • i’ve said nothing that smacks of releativism nor have any certain type of dogma nor desire to think i am that which requires its defense rather than leaving objectivity and the reason of others to see to it.

        as membership and alienation have no bearing on anything here, what i clearly am doing is putting myself on the line to be judged and cannot hide behind memberships and do not hide behind fake profiles.

        if there is something i have said that maybe you’d like to address, how about you do that. if you find my fault to be that i’m merely saying very classic and theologically acceptable and accepted things which should give no one pause to smooth ruffled feathers, then clearly it would be a minor concern where the greater is in questioning why every participant here actually has very ruffled feathers in the first place.

        – steven w. hoyt

        I take it back. You’re no more respectable than “a.morphous.” You’re also rhetorically as dense as osmium. As we have said to “a.morphous” a zillion times, we can see no motive for your visiting our site and abusing our hospitality other than your lower-case narcissism. You should look up like-minded company. (TFB)

      • please reply TO my posts rather than editing them.

        i am not hunting anyone down. i read articles on theology from wordpress in which this is one. i respond to them through wordpress. if you have linked your personal blog to wordpress, i see you’re unaware of how that works given your comments just now.

        as it is once more, if you have an issue with any point i’ve made, then take issue with it. surely it’d be beneath you to simply give a dismissal al la ad hom.

        let’s start with the relativism remark. what have i said that equates to it. i realize your PhD is only comparative literature, but i gather from your works listed on wiki, you have to have some familiarity with philosophy. what i’m hoping is that you’ve spent a great deal of study in epistemology. that will keep comments as pithy as possible.

        And the beat goes on…

      • Don’t say “only comparative literature.” When I was an undergraduate, I minored in English Literature and studied with only one man. He was a Greek Orthodox monk with academic degrees from Harvard and Princeton, as well as a ThD from the Patriarchal Theological Institute. He was one of the best read men I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, and instilled in me the appreciation of the breadth of knowledge needed to seriously study literature. Even as an undergraduate, we had to be more than familiar with Plato, Homer and the Bible before we read Milton or Dante with him. He was even kind enough to tutor me in Classical Greek for two years.

      • really? “only” means something to me that is foreign to anyone else including the OED? that’s “in your defense”?

        listen, obviously no one here wants a rational conversation, people are fluffing up their feathers and credentials, presuming i’ve never defended a thesis of my own, that i’m out to get somebody, that i have motives, et. al.

        here’s the deal, if this is how each of you respond to another human being that simply disagrees and tries diligently so explain clearly why they disagree, then i seriously think a rethinking is in order on what being human entails.

        i’m done. i wish you all, all the best. cheers.

      • I’m beginning to see the problem; you know no grammar, so logic and rhetoric are beyond you. Even the reason that God proverbially gave to the goose would tell you that “they” cannot have “human being” as an antecedent. Since you don’t know the difference between singular and plural, we were obviously expecting too much of you when we believed you understood logic. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

        there’s the deal, if this is how each of you respond to another human being that simply disagrees and tries diligently so explain clearly why they disagree, then i seriously think a rethinking is in order on what being human entails.

  12. i’d say this to each of you but mark. if you cannot engage in dialogue and can only react by defensive dismissiveness and really, ugliness in general, why engage at all? and if christ means so much to you that you can’t be christlike even in disagreement, then how do you suppose you you’re showing you do care about jesus or god or anyone else at all?

  13. Mr. Hoyt:
    I haven’t read, and am unlikely to read, all of your undercapitalized text (another unintentional irony, I am sure). I don’t know you, at all, and my first comment in this thread wasn’t even aimed at your words; but you might consider the possibility that being a condescending ass isn’t the only reason someone might fail to take your words with the utmost of seriousness. As usual that advice is not guaranteed to be worth any more than you paid for it.

  14. Steven, in any argument there are really only three rational crticisms of your opponent’s position. The first is formal, “Is it valid?” The second concerns the truth value of the propositions. The third concerns the whole panoply of informal fallacies. What you need to do, if you want to be taken seriosly, is to restate the argument in standard form and see if Kristor made any mistake in reasoning. Until you do your philosophical homework, I will, as the Mumbo Gumshoe, aka The Lad Himself, continue to mock your philosophical pretensions.

    • AP: you aren’t reading, are you?

      first, as a matter of fact, not all propositions HAVE a truth-value. metaphysical propositions are just that sort, and god is exactly a metaphysical proposition.

      your description of how this all works isn’t any maxim in epistemology. as it is, i laid out a case for first cause. i explained validity. i then explained soundness. then explained with examples, and then showed multiple conclusions from the same premises. i then explained inferencing, and finally, parsimony.

      your conception of philosophy is much like a green belt. your instructors being kind and encouraging to keep your interest and momentum and never have you learn through giving you a beating. and from that, you mistakenly thought you got it all and you quit. the green belt the the most dangerous person there is … to himself. he goes out in the real world and picks fights only to go back humbly to the dojo and ask to be taught the rest, which is when he truly begins to learn.

      don’t presume things about my education or understanding when none of your comments on philosophy are things stated at all correctly, and especially when you haven’t read what i’ve been writing.

      i’d appreciate that.

      • also note, AP, that i number my points so each is clear and can be countered specifically and that i’m continually quoting other folks who are on both sides of this topic of god’s existence and all agree with what i’m saying; and in some measure, i make my points using their words rather than mine. not only, but i’m citing the source all the way to the page number. not only, but of the myriad of sources i could use, i don’t expect you to run out and buy their books but have used those that are freely accessible in pdf online.

        now, for whatever you want to criticize about my lack of using capitalization, i think it’s far less than a push when it comes to diligence and objectivity here. rather than just making a claim, and repeating it, try providing support so it’s more clear to others you’re on track with a field of thought it really just seems you’re disconnected from.

        just a thought.

  15. Mr. Hoyt, Kristor has presented a version of a foundational argument from the classical Western tradition that a Demiurgic Intellect must exist if the world is to be intelligible. Do you disagree with the argument or Kristor’s rhetoric? If you disagree with the argument, it is incumbent upon you to first show that you understand the argument. To do this you should, let me be pedantic here, show your work. Translate Kristor’s argument into standard form and show that he has committed one or more formal or informal fallacies in his reasoning. This is the way philosophy works.

    Not all sentences have truth value, All statements/propositions/judgments must have truth value; that’s pretty much what logic is all about. In your philosophical education have you bothered to study Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Berkeley, Hume, Locke, Kant, and Hegel? If not, you need to. It’s the way I was trained, and the way all other academic philosophers are trained.

    And finally about your challenges in the mechanics of composition. In the Trivium, grammar is taught first because it is the sine qua non of presenting your thought rationally. Your idiosyncratic refusal to capitalize or to use correct punctuation is a sign of intellectual laziness. We’re all guilty of it to some degree or another, but it should be fought against. What’s worse is your obvious lack of grammatical understanding; using “whomever” as a nominative is little less than criminal.

    • Yes – Hoyt says that I “edited” his remarks. There is neither world enough nor time to edit Hoyt’s remarks.

      • When I used to grade papers for a friend, an Indian Brahmin educated at Oxford, she explained her grading procedure by saying that if a paragraph was incoherent, she would put a giant red “x” over the offending passage and write “NO”. Her pratice still tempts me to imitation.

    • Dude, he numbered his points.

      Maybe you’re just too demanding
      Maybe you’re just like my father: too bold
      Maybe you’re just like my mother
      She’s never satisfied (She’s never satisfied)
      Why do we scream at each other?
      This is what it sounds like
      When doves cry

    • clearly, i don’t agree with kristor and just as clearly i have represented the disagreement with continental, pragmatic, and analytical lines of rebuttal, listed and quoted rorty, quine, heidegger, peirce to name just a few from each.

      i need not know anything at all about his background philosophical framework, nor he mine. i need only understand his premises and then draw from counter reasoning and examples why it is i cannot accept what his argument entails and concludes.

      i have exhausted myself to that end to which only one person actually attempted to legitimate redress or discuss. the rest of you seem like you’re in a gladhanding club that decided to link up with wordpress, where theologians and philosophers could care less.

      • you mean the comment clearly showing one of is knows philosophy and calls out the facts that demonstrate the other knows next to nil; as in the clear fact that neither kleene nor saszko would agree all propositions have truth values and cleanly provide syllogistically, along with russell, quine, and a host of others since frege positited truth-values?

        i mean, if by help you mean keeping the truth from surfacing to have a friend save face, i can understand the conflict and the decision, i just can’t say that’s something i would have done.

  16. The Post-Modern Mind — intelligibility optional, but greatly discouraged:

    you mean the comment clearly showing one of is knows philosophy and calls out the facts that demonstrate the other knows next to nil; as in the clear fact that neither kleene nor saszko would agree all propositions have truth values and cleanly provide syllogistically, along with russell, quine, and a host of others since frege positited truth-values?

    • yep. be a pedant. i have old eyes, fat fingers, and a small phone that loves to write for me.

      at least once in your life, son, when someone disagrees with you for legitimate reasons, when you respond finally, make sure you say something that has to do with anything substantive. at least once. i doubt it will be now, but some time, eh?


  17. Pingback: The Argument from Finity | The Orthosphere


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s