Divorce: Symptom of a Profound Psychopathological Reproductive Disorder

Divorce is a gesture that implements and urges demographic and political suicide. It is an expression of self-hatred; of the will to delete the patrimony inherent in oneself, and to prevent people such as oneself from peopling the future.

It explodes the family, which is the basic organ both of the political order and of the biological population. It teaches children (no matter how old) that in the authoritative judgement of their parents, the atomic building block of society is not after all concretely real, but is rather a mere fiction of convention. What is not real needn’t be reckoned, let alone honored; indeed, ought not to be either reckoned, or honored. After all, it is insane to order one’s life under the constraints of a thing that has in itself no concrete reality.

So the children of divorce do not recognize marriage as a real, as a concrete entity with a mind of its own, and interests of its own, supervenient upon those of husband and wife qua individuals; they do not therefore respect it, or care for its life. They undertake to marry as if they were only each other’s customers, who might either take their custom elsewhere, should a better deal hove into view.

They do not, that is to say, validly marry in the first place. They rather shack up for a time under what they themselves construe as a fundamentally specious cover of marriage, and foster therefore a Potemkin Village of a family. The family becomes a mere game, its parties engaged in Live Action Role Play gaming.

So you get big opulent weddings, followed most of the time by big opulent sordid divorces.

Divorce then spreads, like a plague. That spread more and more seems to verify the assertion implicit in divorce, that marriage is irreal. And it worsens the prospects of marriage, by a radical increase in its rate of failure. So there are fewer marriages; fewer even of superficial, specious marriages. People stop bothering with it. A vicious cycle begins, and amplifies. Fertility crashes; the population prone to divorce eventually follows, leaving behind only those resistant to the pathology.

Whence the self-hatred that’s back of divorce? Whence the impulse to demographic suicide?

If like most moderns you believe that life has no inherent meaning, is about nothing, and has no ultimate (or therefore ultimately real) purpose, then it is crazy to act as though you credited life with some meaning and purpose. If there is no point to life, why bother to reproduce?

Divorce, then, is a downstream sequela of the loss of faith: faith in God, faith in his people and their nations, faith in the goodness and meaningfulness of life, faith in the ultimate righteousness and excellence of virtuous acts, faith in the existence and goodness and pleasure of virtue, faith in the obligations of duty and honor.

If nothing matters ultimately, then in the final analysis nothing matters proximally. There is then no point in deferring gratification for the sake of some future – a fortiori, for the sake of futures of the lives of others, especially when they are as yet unborn. To defer present concrete and immediate gratification for the sake of values that do not ultimately exist would be madness – like burning money.

If marriage, family, society, nation, people, patrimony are all meaningless – about nothing, and amounting in the end to nothing – then it is foolish to sacrifice for their sake.

So you get faster and faster regress toward the zero of them all.

This is why there must be a Great Awakening if the West is to be saved. If the cults are all incredible, so then are their cultures, and no one will believe in them, much less sacrifice for them. So, atheist Reaction is a start, in that it is red pilled; but, unbaptized it is stillborn, bootless, moot. Lacking the allure of adventure both important and everlasting, it boils down to a meaningless life-style preference, a hobby like Civil War Re-enactment or World of Warcraft.

First God; then, and only then, all other things. Even given only the mere definition of “God” – that than which no greater can be conceived, by any mind – how could it possibly be otherwise?

++++++++++++++++++++

If you are yourself divorced, don’t beat yourself up about all this. You’re a sinner. Nothing special about that; get over yourself.

Repent of your unbelief, and of your sins that contributed to your divorce, and of your divorce. Confess, do your penance, accept the grace of redemption, and move ahead in holiness and righteousness before God. What’s the alternative?

++++++++++++++++++++

What if you are an atheist who wants to believe that life is important and valuable? What if you are an atheist who finds that life *just is* important and valuable? What if you have no way of repenting, because you are an atheist?

Well, your problem is atheism. If you don’t fix that, you are basically and totally screwed. So, best get to work figuring out what you’ve gotten wrong.

The one thing of which you can be absolutely certain, after all – the one thing in which you can have unshakeable faith – is that you’ve gotten something wrong.

62 thoughts on “Divorce: Symptom of a Profound Psychopathological Reproductive Disorder

  1. Pingback: Divorce: Symptom of a Profound Psychopathological Reproductive Disorder | @the_arv

  2. “So, atheist Reaction is a start, in that it is red pilled; but, unbaptized it is stillborn, bootless, moot. Lacking the allure of adventure both important and everlasting, it boils down to a meaningless life-style preference, a hobby like Civil War Re-enactment or World of Warcraft.”

    It seems to me that Christians (and monotheists generally) are those most keen on telling people their lives don’t matter.

    “Well, your problem is atheism. If you don’t fix that, you are basically and totally screwed. So, best get to work figuring out what you’ve gotten wrong.”

    So the answer to those that do not believe in unverifiable assertions is to say, “You’re life is meaningless even if you tell me it isn’t.” That’s quite nihilistic.

    • It seems to me that Christians (…) are those most keen on telling people their lives don’t matter.

      Please elaborate.

      So the answer to those that do not believe in unverifiable assertions is to say, “You’re life is meaningless even if you tell me it isn’t.”

      Huh?

      • The assertion in the piece was that “true” meaning couldn’t be attained by those who didn’t believe in God. And that those who didn’t believe were “screwed.” I don’t know what really needs to be elaborated upon.

      • Kaiter Enless:

        If there is a God (as defined in the O.P. – a Supreme Being), does it make sense to you that someone who denies His existence can ever (so long as (s)he continues in his denial) attain true meaning?

    • It seems to me that Christians (and monotheists generally) are those most keen on telling people their lives don’t matter.

      Not at all. I’m not saying that the lives of atheists are meaningless. On the contrary. As a Christian, I believe their lives are *infinitely* meaningful, *infinitely* consequential and valuable.

      But atheists don’t think that. Not if they are consistent, anyway. They think nothing absolutely matters (because if there is no such thing as the Absolute, then, etc.). But this is just to say that in the final, ultimate analysis, nothing really matters at all, period full stop. Our apprehensions that things matter are then illusions.

      It’s their doctrine, not mine. It’s the *atheists* who insist that their lives are meaningless. Most of them have not figured this out, to be sure. But in my experience, most of them are rather anxious about it, deep down; and sad.

      So the answer to those that do not believe in unverifiable assertions is to say, “Your life is meaningless even if you tell me it isn’t.” That’s quite nihilistic.

      No. My answer to them is that they have grievously erred, that’s all. It’s a universal condition of humanity, not something at all special to atheists, or from which Christians are the least bit exempt. The problem that is special to those who commit the error of rejecting God – men such as I, who reject him several times each day, on average – is that the consequence of the error (unless it is corrected timely, and then healed) is the loss of an infinite amount of value potential in every human life. If you turn away from the source of all being, you ipso facto turn away from your own being, and every other. So you die, forever, to everything; meaning that, to you, everything dies, permanently. If you turn to the source of all being, you live forever. So, an infinite loss or gain. Those are the stakes when it comes to the question of rejecting God, or not.

      Such is the Christian account of the atheist’s predicament.

      That’s half of what I meant in writing, “you are basically and totally screwed.” But there was another side to what I meant.

      If you reject God, and ipso facto reject therefore also any possible permanent, ultimate significance, any true and absolute value of anything at all, howsoever big or small, then however valuable and wonderful and good your life feels to you (and I don’t doubt that for almost all atheists, that’s very much the way it feels), the bottom line is that your ontology teaches you that in reality, when all is said and done, nothing at all matters even a tiny little bit. So however nice or good it *seems,* your life amounts really to … nothing. All your care, all your work, all your feelings, all your loves: nothing. Dead, stupid, pointless, empty.

      Caring about any of it, then, or loving it, or working at it? Simply inapposite; so, insane.

      This is not what *I* think is true. It is what *atheism* must think is true, if it is consistent, and brave. It’s *atheism* that’s nihilist. And that’s the other way that atheists are “basically and totally screwed,” by their own account of things.

      So, atheists are “basically and totally screwed” on both the theist and the atheist account. Not so nice.

      If your metaphysics obliges you to the conclusion that life is basically and incorrigibly stupid and worthless, when you find that it isn’t, quite, then you have a problem.

      Either you have a problem with life, or with your metaphysics. Given the evidence of your whole life, that it is basically important and valuable and wonderful, it is likely that the problem lies in your metaphysics. Your metaphysics contradicts *all your feelings about things* (remembering that your feelings that this or that thing is bad or evil, or even that things are pervasively evil, cannot but derive from a prior conviction that they could be, and ought to be, better).

      So, since your metaphysics is patently inadequate to your experience of what it is like to exist, probably it is mistaken.

      Oh, and one other thing: theism is not unverifiable. Its contradiction is incoherent, so it must be true. Just why that’s so is a topic for another post. Not only that, but theism is demonstrated. By a saint! Not only is it true, it is tautologically true. So fun; so gorgeous.

      Anyway: if you think that theism is unverifiable, then you have definitely gotten something badly wrong, and have some more work to do.

      • Kristor:

        Very well said, sir. An atheist simply cannot attain (to use Kaiter Enless’ word) true meaning *to his own mind or satisfaction*. I should have made that more explicit in my above comment.

      • Theism is the idea that Being requires a person to create it and keep it running. It seems appropriate for children or primitives, not intelligent mature adults. If you can’t understand how things can be meaningful without such an imaginary person, that is indicative of a personal cognitive limitation, not really a problem for atheists. (See here for an extended attempt to navigate between the false poles of theism and nihilism).

        Won’t even get into the absurdity of writing about divorce as you do while still being eager to support a twice-divorced philandering POS as a political leader. Trump almost makes me into a believer, simply because he is so obviously epitomizes the opposite of the all virtues (truth, beauty, nobility, selflessness, intelligence, fidelity) and so puts them into sharper focus. But if God wasn’t already dead, hearing his ostensible supporters line up behind such a person would probably drive him to suicide.

      • a.morphous:

        Trump almost makes me into a believer, simply because he is so obviously epitomizes the opposite of the all virtues (truth, beauty, nobility, selflessness, intelligence, fidelity) and so puts them into sharper focus.

        The only real problem with your above quoted statements is the lead up assertion that Kristor is “eager” to support Trump. I should imagine (since we’re still assuming things and all) that Kristor is anything but “eager” to
        support Trump, because as he well knows Mr. Trump in many ways epitomizes all that is wrong with this mucked up liberal-dominated culture we live in.

        As Zippy now and again reminds us, in the land of lies every day is opposite day. And Mr. Trump has certainly not escaped its effects.

        But if God wasn’t already dead, hearing his ostensible supporters line up behind such a person would probably drive him to suicide.

        Ha, ha. Good one. If God were atheist then, yes, he would probably have a strong desire to end it all based on that reason alone. Turns out, though, that God cannot have such a desire in any case. Crazy!

      • a.morphous:

        re: the (hopeless sinner’s) desire to commit suicide, and for your entertainment:

        Back when I enlisted in the U.S.A.F. many moons ago we were all put in a large room and given a written psychological exam to take (gotta weed out the crazies and all that); one of the questions on the exam asked whether the person had any regrets and to briefly explain if so. I answered “yes, the last six years of my life.” Another question was whether or not the person had “ever thought about suicide.” Again, I answered very honestly “yes.” These two answers coupled, I’m sure, with the fact that I was by then already something of a religious fanatic and therefore a primitive with a child’s mentality as you describe above, landed me in a different and smaller room with a (female) psycho whose job it was to nail all of this down quick, fast and in a hurry!

        Short story made even shorter, the interview lasted about an hour and as I explained to the young woman (who at first seemed especially concerned about the answer to the suicide question): ‘one of my defects is that I tend to be honest to a fault. Therefore, when presented with a question such as the suicide question I am going to answer it as honestly as I can. But since the exam did not ask for an elaboration in that particular case, I will give you one now if you like.’ She indicated that, yes, she was very eager to hear it, so I continued, to wit:

        “Some years back the idea of suicide did in fact occur to me; I don’t recall the exact date and time, but no sooner than it had come into my head, however, another more dominant thought came in to chase it out for once and for all time.” That thought? “Gee I sure am glad we got that out of the way; now we can get on with the serious business of life never to think about something so idiotic as suicide again.”

        Any adult human being who would answer that question in the negative is very likely lying.

    • So the answer to those that do not believe in unverifiable assertions is to say…

      Well, if one adopts verificationism/positivism then that is a very basic problem right there. Positivism is a provably (pace Godel) incoherent epistemology. A positivist can’t even understand the meaning of his own thoughts coherently (his grasp of meaning is self-negating); let alone can he understand the ontologically real things about which he thinks (God, self, consciousness, time, love, persons, physics, biology … the list of everyday manifest impossibilities for the positivist could extend to volumes.)

      At it is certainly true that impediments to thinking coherently at all present impediments to thinking about God coherently.

      • Exactly! Thanks, a.morphous! It’s like I’m always saying: atheists (most of them) are tilting at the Flying Spaghetti Monster, while theists are looking on saying, “uh, guys, that’s not what we’ve been talking about – no one believes in that stuff.” It does no good.

      • Kristor, your comment reminds me of the atheist argument (which I have read in the Opinion section of newspapers many times) that “Creationism”/”Intelligent Design” does not belong in any school curriculum because Science has gathered mountains of data to support the atheist view, whereas all we theists have is a few short chapters in an old dusty book. Or something like that.

        I have been compelled on several occasions to point out to these people that atheism is not entitled to exclusive ownership of the data, nor of its interpretation; that it (the data) is what it is, and that the error of the atheist apologist is in mistaking data for explanation thereof. Which in any case involves preconceived notions, human error and human fallibility, cooking of the books and so forth.

      • You miss the point. If atheism is disbelief in a proposition you yourself don’t believe, how then is it also a source of so much error and misery?

      • Atheists reject God, and that cannot but injure them. Then – since to turn away from God is ipso facto to turn away from truth, and just to immure the mind in error and misprision – they justify their apostasy by specious arguments that don’t really work, except in their fevered imaginations.

        Then, too, to confuse God with anything less – as those atheists who inveigh against the Flying Spaghetti Monster do – is itself a deformity of the intellect, betokening all sorts of other similar errors, that can as they are deployed in the formulation of acts ruin or impoverish even mortal lives.

      • If atheism is disbelief in a proposition you yourself don’t believe, how then is it also a source of so much error and misery?

        Isn’t that obvious? Disbelief in something real and profoundly important rationalized by a silly strawman conception of the object of disbelief does share, with believers, the common ground of disbelief in the strawman. But that common-ground rejection of the strawman actually inhibits the unbeliever from making epistemic contact with reality.

      • Zippy:

        In my experience, atheists often have a really hard time understanding the actual concept of God. It seems as though the flying spaghetti monster idea is the only one that they can get. They don’t see God out there, all they see is flying spaghetti monsters. The concept of the flying spaghetti monster seems to drive the possibility of the concept of God right out of their minds. I try to explain to them the concept of God, and they just don’t understand.

        And flying spaghetti monsters are not important. So they don’t view missing out on the idea of God as something important to them. All they can see, is that they are missing out on believing in flying spaghetti monsters.

      • Kristor:

        I think it is probably a more general phenomenon not limited to atheism. Human beings have lots of ways of blocking out cognitive dissonance, and one of those ways is to construct cartoon caricatures to keep ideas that cause cognitive dissonance at bay. It is part of the ‘cognitive miser’ phenomenon: we are finite and have only so much time and energy to spend on thought, so we craft stereotypes to deal with minimizing the intellectual work we have to do in dealing with reality. This is an unavoidable part of the human condition but can obviously turn pathological when it leads us to exclude thought about something which is objectively of crucial importance.

        IOW we all have prejudices, and the problem with atheism isn’t that it has prejudices at all (this is unavoidable) but that it has prejudices which are deadly wrong.

      • You folks aren’t making sense. As an atheist, I don’t believe in the deities that are posited by the usual meaning of theism — the gaseous vertebrae, flying spaghetti monsters, and angry old men who dish out punishments. You don’t believe in those either, so you say, but in something else, something I am apparently missing out on and reject, although since you won’t say what it is it is hard to know if I really reject it or not.

        If it’s something like “the order of the cosmos”, then I don’t reject it, although I might reject your particular conception of it.

      • …although since you won’t say what it is it is hard to know if I really reject it or not.

        Obviously blog sound bites aren’t doing the trick. Not that that is that particularly surprising.

        Have you read The Last Superstition by Ed Feser? (Your strawman characterizations of God point strongly to the supposition that no, you haven’t).

      • It is indeed something like the order of the cosmos, or rather the origin of that order, for this and all kosmoi. The sorts of deities you suppose are posited by the usual meaning of theism aren’t. I second Zippy’s recommendation of The Last Superstition. You might also want to read Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton, and The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss by DB Hart. If you read those four, you’ll have a good introduction to theism. I encourage you also to read with an open mind – a mind so open that it is ready to admit that it is learning things it has never heard of before. You may find that you’ve been subsisting so far on caricatures, rather than the real thing – on straw, rather than meat.

      • Kristor, Zippy:

        You boys are all over this! Thank y’all!

        a.morphous:

        When Zippy and Kristor recommend a reading list, read it; don’t think about it, just read it. 🙂

      • I have read Feser, was pretty unimpressed. Not that he’s wrong that some of the new atheist arguments are philosophically crude, but that doesn’t make his right.

        While we are trading references, here’s a blog post that sums up my views pretty closely. Nut graf:

        The problematic nature of this transition — from God as ineffable, essentially static and completely harmless abstract concept, to God as a kind of being that, in some sense that is perpetually up for grabs, cares about us down here on Earth — is not just a minor bump in the otherwise smooth road to a fully plausible conception of the divine. It is the profound unsolvable dilemma of “sophisticated theology.”

        The real reason people are devoted to this unworkable idea (the postings here are perfect evidence) is that they think that without a god to ground out human values there is no ground, and life becomes meaningless and awful. But those are two poles of a false dichotomy.

      • Whether Feser’s arguments for theism are impressive to you is irrelevant. All that matters is whether they are valid and their premises are true. If so, theism is true, regardless of your impressions. If you can’t *prove* that his premises are false or that his arguments are invalid, and if you are intellectually honest and sane, you have no choice but to begin believing in God.

        The paragraph you quote does indeed raise a thorny question. It is a type of the larger, more basic question of metaphysics, that follows immediately upon the demonstration of the necessity of the One (which is the proper answer to the first question of metaphysics: why is there something rather than nothing?): given a necessary eternal One, how do you get a Many out of it? Then, if you can understand how you get a Many out of the One, you can ask intelligibly how you can get an El Elyon or a YHWH his son, incarnate in Jesus, out of the One.

        It’s a great question. But it is not insoluble. The answer, however, is a topic for a post of its own. I’ll put it on the list.

        I don’t have time now to fisk the Sean Carroll post you link. He falls prey to so very many metaphysical misprisions that it would take many, many pages. Suffice to say, though, that to do so would be shooting fish in a barrelful of fish. Good for a whole series of posts.

        The real reason people are devoted to this unworkable idea … is that they think that without a God to ground out human values there is no ground, and life becomes meaningless and awful. But those are two poles of a false dichotomy.

        To say “there is no ground of meaning” *just is* to say “there is no meaning.”

        The problem is not that life becomes meaningless and awful if metaphysics reveals that it has in fact no meaning, but that the obvious meaningfulness and wonderfulness of life simply *falsifies* the proposition that life has no meaning. Here’s the syllogism:

        1. If there is no ground of meaning, then life is meaningless.
        2. Life is meaningful.
        3. There is a ground of meaning.

        Notwithstanding all that, you’ve mistaken theists. We don’t believe in God because the notion is useful to us, but because we find that it is true.

      • The dilemma, as played out so amorphously, is the swirly individual atheist “elitist” fully e-quipped to denounce God without a single worry over the question of objective Supremacy, i.e., (P)erfection. IOW, on one side is Kristor, Zippy and Morris all seeking (P)erfection and on the “other” side… Well, there is no other side. It is all amorphous.

        No elitist worthy of the status can reject (P)erfection and be taken seriously. Yet, GIVEN a dulled mass, this is exactly the absurd reality “we” find ourselves in.

        An amorphous mind implying definitive cognitive advancement FOR THE MERE FACT that said amorphous mind REJECTS (P)erfection… REJECTS He who wills All Right.

        Embracing “he” who wills all wrong would “make sides,” create cognitive consistency and shine light on a.morphous face.

        The only real side must change the frame.

      • All that matters is whether they are valid and their premises are true. If so, theism is true, regardless of your impressions. If you can’t *prove* that his premises are false or that his arguments are invalid, and if you are intellectually honest and sane, you have no choice but to begin believing in God.

        Sorry, no. Formal proofs with absolute power to convince are not to be found in philosophy or theology. You want that, you can do mathematics. I don՚t have Feser՚s book handy, but I can guess that some of the tactics he uses that seem rock solid to you will just seem like slippery word games to me.

        In this case, we can՚t even agree on what “god” means, so there՚s no way there՚s going to be a proof of theism that is convincing to us both.

        You are misinterpreting the paragraph of Carroll I quoted if you think it is about metaphysics. It is about the incoherence of the (Christian) concept of God as it is composed of two incompatible sets of ideas. There՚s really no way to put the static, eternal-and-unchanging-ground-of-being god together with the angry moralizer (or benevolent parent) of scripture. Other than mysticism, of course – perhaps God is so great he transcends all distinctions, including that one. I could maybe buy that, but I can՚t then go on and try to reason myself into a proof of God, because we are outside of the realm of reason altogether at that point.

  3. Pingback: Divorce: Symptom of a Profound Psychopathological Reproductive Disorder | Reaction Times

  4. if a contract between individuals does not create a concrete being, independent of the existence of any the contractors *qua* individuals, then what the hell are corporations?

    nihilism is destiny to the West. a “yes, we can” in the form a Great Awakening is just as hubristic as trying to tell God what he’s supposed to be doing. what if He doesn’t care about “life as it currently exists”? Providence will tell.

    but, for a nihilist (and so for the West in general), survival is a value that can only be solved by either suicide or the “transvaluation of all values”. eventually, either they all die, or some get to understand survival in some way.

    • Well, while I take your point about corporations, and agree with it, the countervailing nominalist argument is going to be that the corporation is a completely artificial fiction. And so far as the legal formalization of the corporation is concerned, this is absolutely correct. So the argument has a lot of appeal, prima facie.

      The problem is that it notices only the legal formalization of the corporation. That formalization is, indeed, completely artificial.

      But the corporation is far more than its legal formalization.

      The realist rejoinder is that reducing a corporation to its legal form is like reducing a baby to his birth certificate and Social Security Number. Some corporations are indeed nothing more than legal instruments, just as some marriages are nothing more than contracts of convenience. But corporations that employ people doing real work together are a different kettle of fish. In such firms, the legal formalities are an irritating afterthought, and an impediment to the true life of the outfit.

      The marriage of convenience is not a real marriage. It is a fake marriage. Likewise, a corporation that has only a legal existence, and does no real work, is not a real corporation. It is a fake corporation.

      • i would only disagree in regards to the formalization being an afterthought: it is through these formalizations that it, well, takes form and begins to do work (work which is specified in these contracts). contracts don’t make the essence of the corporation, but gives it its form.

      • Its *legal* form, yes. But there are lots more dimensions to its formal characterization than that.

        I have myself formed a working corporation, and served as its secretary for decades. The legal formalities have *always* been an irritating afterthought. A necessity, to be sure, nonetheless.

      • I don’t mean the paperwork, I mean you hiring a person, agreeing on what they will do in the company, how much pay they will get, etc. that’s the contract, for all that matters. the register of those things is a memory extension, a technological system put in place so that conflict resolution doesn’t have to rely on mere subjectivity.

      • The Realist theory of corporations, common among German lawyers, was vigorously defended in England by A V Dicey. “When,” he said, “a body of twenty, or two thousand, or two hundred thousand men bind themselves together to act in a particular way for some common purpose, they create a body, which by no fiction of law, but by the very nature of things, differs from the individuals of whom it is constituted.”

  5. None of the original employees of Ford still work there. Yet Ford exists. Therefore Ford is distinct from and not reducible to the current employees and owners of Ford.

    Rinse and repeat for countless other institutions.

    • Didn’t Ford capitulate to the federal government a few years back and completely change the nature of its being thereby? Wait. No, that wasn’t Ford. Hmm.

  6. I have stated before that “divorce” is a concrete expression of a desire for “radical sexual autonomy.” Inherent to the “right” to “divorce” is the principled value of “radical sexual autonomy.”

    And if one highly values “radical sexual autonomy,” one is highly desirous of self-annihilation.

    Divorce, along with abortion, homosexuality, miscegenation, euthanasia, is a self-annihilating action. It is not as suddenly actualized as an abortion or euthanization. It is not as readily apparent as miscegenation or homosexuality. Yet, it is what it is… A desire for “radical sexual autonomy” and self-annihilation.

  7. a.morphous,

    “Formal proofs with absolute power to convince are not to be found in philosophy or theology. You want that, you can do mathematics.”

    That sure does sound like you’re knocking on the door of empiricism again, but I may be misunderstanding you. At any rate, no one is asking for you to be “absolutely powerfully” convinced in God (although, as an aside, I think asking yourself what, exactly, it would take for you to be so convinced may bring up some of your own philosophical commitments which are likely in error). All anyone is asking with any philosophical proof is for you to point out the contradiction. Should be easy enough for you it seems since you were so unimpressed with Dr. Feser’s book. But what I have seen is that whenever that gets too close to home for most, the argument gets spun off into “I mean whatever; its not like that means there’s a God that can tell me who I get to sleep with.” But that’s a separate issue.

    • A.morphous: What Wood said.

      It is remarkable to me how quickly atheists jettison reason and logic when it suits their convenience to do so.

      Formal proofs with absolute power to convince are not to be found in philosophy or theology. You want that, you can do mathematics.

      You’ll have to show your work. You’ll have to *prove,* cogently, the philosophical proposition that cogent philosophical proofs are impossible. That’s a *huge* claim. NB that you won’t be able to find a cogent proof of it, because such a proof would be self-refuting. That this is so means that the negation of “there are no cogent philosophical proofs” is *necessarily* true. There are, i.e., necessarily some cogent philosophical proofs.

      You may of course respond by a retreat to an appeal to the notion that in the foregoing all I’m doing is chopping logic and playing word games. But that would indeed be a retreat; i.e., a defeat.

      I don’t have Feser’s book handy, but I can guess that some of the tactics he uses that seem rock solid to you will just seem like slippery word games to me.

      Your job then, if you are honest and diligent and sane, is to get crystal clear on the terms so that you can eliminate the current comfortable fuzziness in your concepts, so as then to be able to evaluate the arguments properly. I can assure you that the classical theistic arguments are dead serious, and are founded not on terminological confusion, but rather on an honest and careful and ruthless elimination of such confusions – on crystal clarity on the meanings of the terms they employ.

      One of Feser’s basic points is that moderns are not educated in the meanings of the terms employed in classical metaphysics and theology, so that they interpret the arguments of the Scholastics under the modern meanings of those terms. These modern meanings naturally tend to produce in the undereducated modern mind a raft of misapprehensions about the arguments, which then appear to undermine their cogency. To understand the classical arguments, one simply *must* understand them the way that the Scholastics did. To evaluate them in any other way is to evaluate arguments that the Scholastics *did not make.*

      In this case, we can’t even agree on what “god” means, so there’s no way there’s going to be a proof of theism that is convincing to us both.

      That’s easy. God is that than which no greater can be conceived. Thus he is the Ultimate. From his ultimacy all sorts of attributes effortlessly present themselves as implicit therein: eternity, necessity, unity, being, actuality, simplicity, omnipotence, omniscience, and so forth.

      You are misinterpreting the paragraph of Carroll I quoted if you think it is about metaphysics. It is about the incoherence of the (Christian) concept of God as it is composed of two incompatible sets of ideas. There’s really no way to put the static, eternal-and-unchanging-ground-of-being god together with the angry moralizer (or benevolent parent) of scripture.

      You can’t talk about God at all without doing metaphysics. Obviously. So, no. Carroll’s paragraph might not be *about* metaphysics, but it presupposes a metaphysical scheme; all propositions do so.

      Under the right metaphysics, there is no contradiction between the God of Athens and YHWH. Carroll’s metaphysics is risibly wrong, so of course he can’t begin to see how this could be so.

      • You’ll have to show your work. You’ll have to *prove,* cogently, the philosophical proposition that cogent philosophical proofs are impossible.

        Sorry, but I don՚t. I՚ve done mathematics so I know what a rigorous proof is, and I know that philosophy in general is not capable of achieving the same level of rigor. That doesn՚t mean that philosophical proofs are “impossible”; it means they are more conditional and have less power to convince than a mathematical proof.

        This is just an empirical fact. Mathematicians do not generally have long arguments about the validity of each other՚s proofs, although they can and do detect flaws in them. But philosophers have spent thousands of years arguing about such things with no end in sight. I know you think you are in possession of an ironclad and irrefutable proof of your particular theology – but I՚m hardly the only one to remain unconvinced. That՚s because philosophical proofs don՚t have the same power as mathematical ones, even if you wish them to.

        me: In this case, we can’t even agree on what “god” means, so there’s no way there’s going to be a proof of theism that is convincing to us both.

        you: That’s easy. God is that than which no greater can be conceived. Thus he is the Ultimate.

        Come on, there are at least two obvious weaknesses right off the bat:
        1 – it՚s a definition in terms of “what can be conceived”, which is not well-defined and is likely to vary drastically between different people
        2 – wtf does “greater” mean? Bigger? Greater in social rank, like a king is greater than a peasant? More powerful (although power is not a cleanly defined concept either)?. There is no such thing as abstract greatness, there are only specific metrics along which things can be ranked.

        “that than which no greater can be conceived” seems entirely meaningless from a rationalist perspective, though I suppose a mystical formula it might have some utility. But I thought we were doing reason here.

      • OK, well done: you are backing off your previous claim that there are no cogent philosophical proofs. But now you are claiming that there are no rigorous philosophical proofs. Unfortunately for you, this claim is just as enormous as the claim that there are no cogent philosophical proofs. So, you’ll have to show us that it is true.

        It won’t do to suggest that its truth is an “empirical fact.” That would be to do no more than to provide us with the warrant of your own personal experience. That’s not nothing, but it isn’t sufficient to ground your claim. Other people evidently have found otherwise than you. For example, I know of a syllogism that proves the mortality of Socrates from the mortality of his manhood that is incontrovertibly rigorous. So, it’s my empirical finding against yours, and I’m standing here with a counterexample in hand; a definitive empirical falsification of your claim. To ground your claim sufficiently, you’ll need to trump empirics by transcending them; you’ll need a rigorous philosophical proof that there is no such thing as a rigorous philosophical proof.

        Knock yourself out!

        The perdurant controversies in philosophy arise from disagreements over the proper meaning of the terms deployed in the construction of premises. There is no controversy over the criteria of validity, because validity can be ascertained using variables like P instead of substantive premises.

        If you construct a validly formed argument with precisely defined terms expressing incontrovertible premises, then the conclusion is incontrovertible. This is no different with philosophy than it is with mathematics. Rigor in mathematics is easier to achieve because everyone can easily stipulate to a definition of a term such as “line.” The terms philosophy must use are more difficult to define to universal satisfaction; they are more controvertible, mostly because they are far more complex.

        E.g., the definition of God that you have just controverted.

        It’s a definition in terms of “what can be conceived,” which is not well-defined and is likely to vary drastically between different people.

        It is a definition in terms of what can be conceived by any mind whatsoever, even the mind of God. God is that than which no mind whatsoever can conceive a greater. It would seem prima facie that finite minds such as our own could not tell what some more capable mind might be able to conceive, but that turns out not to matter: whatever the conceptual limits of any such mind, God is that than which no greater can be conceived by that mind. God then is that than which even omniscience could not possibly conceive a greater. We don’t need to understand the nature or character of that greatness in order to stipulate to it, just as we don’t need to understand infinity in order to treat of it intelligibly.

        WTF does “greater” mean? Bigger? Greater in social rank, like a king is greater than a peasant? More powerful (although power is not a cleanly defined concept either)? There is no such thing as abstract greatness, there are only specific metrics along which things can be ranked.

        “Greater” means “better along any dimension of virtue, whatsoever.” It covers all the perfections, insofar as the characters of their ultimacy are properly construed. Bigness, for example, must be qualified, because as Gaunilo pointed out, no matter how big the island, we could conceive a bigger one. So when we say that God is bigger than anything else, we can’t mean that he is some definite maximum size, but rather that he is infinitely extensive. But then, extension too, however, must be qualified when it comes to God. It’s complicated; sort of like the length of a line, which can be specified only by reference to some other line of a certain length, which in turn can be specified only by reference to some other line of a certain length … and so on, ad infinitum.

      • OK, well done: you are backing off your previous claim that there are no cogent philosophical proofs.

        I did not say that and I՚m not backing off of anything. You՚ve used the word “cogent” multiple times; I have not once as far as I know, so I have no idea what work it is supposed to be doing.

        It won’t do to suggest that its truth is an “empirical fact.” That would be to do no more than to provide us with the warrant of your own personal experience.

        The empirical fact I mentioned is not based on personal experience; it is based on the generally observable fact that philosophy as a human endeavor does not seem to have the ability to settle on fixed and final conclusions, but mathematics does.

        If you construct a validly formed argument with precisely defined terms expressing incontrovertible premises, then the conclusion is incontrovertible. This is no different with philosophy than it is with mathematics.

        Yes – the problem with philosophy is not in its methods of formal argument, but in the premises and the relationship of those premises to reality.

        God is that than which no mind whatsoever can conceive a greater.

        For any conceivable x, I can conceive a greater x. So what the above is really saying is that god is inconceivable – a point on which I might agree, but that implies that reasoning about god is going to be problematic.

        “Greater” means “better along any dimension of virtue, whatsoever.”

        bigness a virtue? You imply it is. That how about littleness, which is certainly a virtue in certain contexts (like microelectronics)? So God is both infinitely big and infinitely small. Cool.

        You seem to be illustrating Caroll՚s point very well. Infinity is an abstract mathematical concept, formal and kind of bloodless, Virtue and qualities like bigness are human-scale concepts which do not blend very well at all with infinity. When you try, you produce nonsense or paradox.

      • Cogent means clear, logical, convincing.

        I note that you now say that you have not backed off on your claim that no cogent philosophical proof is possible. Nor have you mentioned your second claim that no rigorous philosophical proof is possible. Do you have a cogent or rigorous proof of either of these claims? If not, then you are just blowing smoke.

        The empirical fact I mentioned is not based on personal experience; it is based on the generally observable fact that philosophy as a human endeavor does not seem to have the ability to settle on fixed and final conclusions, but mathematics does.

        We aren’t talking here about whether or not philosophy can make progress (it can: viz., Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem, Anselm’s Ontological Proof, Aristotle’s Four Causes, the Five Ways of Saint Thomas, Plato’s Ideas, and so forth). We are arguing over your claim that it cannot generate rigorous or cogent proofs. I gave you an empirical counterexample that falsifies the proposition that philosophy is incapable of rigorous or cogent proofs: the argument from the manhood of Socrates and the mortality of men that Socrates is mortal. The proposition you propose is simply false.

        … the problem with philosophy is not in its methods of formal argument, but in the premises and the relationship of those premises to reality.

        As I said. But then, the problem is not with philosophy, strictly speaking, but rather with philosophers.

        Is bigness a virtue? You imply it is. Then how about littleness, which is certainly a virtue in certain contexts (like microelectronics)? So God is both infinitely big and infinitely small? Cool.

        Whether or not bigness and smallness are virtues depends upon the circumstances. God is perfect under all circumstances, so bigness and smallness are not properly pertinent to him.

        And yes: he is both infinitely big and infinitely small; that’s what happens when you are ubiquitous.

        Virtue and qualities like bigness are human-scale concepts which do not blend very well at all with infinity. When you try, you produce nonsense or paradox.

        One must, to be sure, be extremely careful in using language to speak of God. This is an ancient caveat of metaphysical theology. It does not entail that in speaking of God we cannot use terms such as ‘knowledge,’ ‘love,’ ‘act,’ and so forth, only that we must be careful not to use them in respect to God the same way we would use them in respect to creatures. It is just that error that produces the difficulties you and Carroll have noticed, such as ascribing bigness to God. He’s big, alright, but when you look at it carefully, you realize that it doesn’t really make much sense to ascribe size to him.

      • “Mathematics is perfect” is a fixed and final conclusion that no amorphous modern mathematician will attest to. So modern mathematician is not seeking a perfect certainty in his Mathematics.

      • We aren’t talking here about whether or not philosophy can make progress (it can: viz., Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem, Anselm’s Ontological Proof, Aristotle’s Four Causes, the Five Ways of Saint Thomas, Plato’s Ideas, and so forth). We are arguing over your claim that it cannot generate rigorous or cogent proofs.

        Those may or may not have been progress, but nowadays many of those are not so popular and philosophers are entranced with the ideas of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Rorty, and Foucault. Tomorrow it might be other thinkers. Which illustrates my point.

        Also, Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem is mathematics, not philosophy, although it is often [mis]used in philosophical arguments. How can you tell? Because all mathematicians acknowledge its validity and don՚t spend time arguing about it.

        me: … the problem with philosophy is not in its methods of formal argument, but in the premises and the relationship of those premises to reality.

        you: As I said. But then, the problem is not with philosophy, strictly speaking, but rather with philosophers.

        That is ridiculous. Philosophy is not simply formal reasoning, it is whatever philosophers do, which includes much more than that.

        One must, to be sure, be extremely careful in using language to speak of God.

        You are contadicting yourself. If philosophy is a wholly a matter of formal logic, then there is no need to “be extremely careful”, you just take your premises and run your inference rules over them.

        It does not entail that in speaking of God we cannot use terms such as ‘knowledge,’ ‘love,’ ‘act,’ and so forth, only that we must be careful not to use them in respect to God the same way we would use them in respect to creatures

        Better not to confuse yourself by using terms with a common meaning for something else entirely – unless, of course, your goal is confusion.

      • I repeat: the question is not whether or not philosophy can make progress, but rather whether you can furnish a rigorous, cogent proof of your claim that rigorous, cogent philosophical proofs are impossible. If you can’t furnish such a proof, you would do better to back off the claims than to try to keep distracting your audience with hand-waving about tangential matters.
        Now, if there can indeed be no such thing as a rigorous cogent philosophical proof, then it would seem that philosophical progress would be completely stymied. But if there can be such proofs – as, obviously, there can – then philosophical progress should be possible, at least in principle. That being the case, we should look to defects in the practice of philosophy for the reason of the controversies among philosophers. I have suggested that a palmary source of such controversies is disagreements over the proper meanings of terms – a problem that does not so much bedevil logicians and mathematicians.

        A nice illustration of the terminological bedevilment of philosophy may be taken from the controversies among physicists and philosophers over the proper interpretation of quantum mechanics. The math of QM is not in doubt; nor is its truth as an adequate and faithful model of reality. But what the truth of that model tells us about the nature of reality is not settled.

        … the problem is not with philosophy, strictly speaking, but rather with philosophers.

        That is ridiculous. Philosophy is not simply formal reasoning, it is whatever philosophers do, which includes much more than that.

        I didn’t suggest that philosophers do nothing more than engage in formal reasoning.

        If philosophy is a wholly a matter of formal logic, then there is no need to “be extremely careful,” you just take your premises and run your inference rules over them.

        I didn’t suggest that philosophy is wholly a matter of formal logic. On the contrary.

        Better not to confuse yourself by using terms with a common meaning for something else entirely – unless, of course, your goal is confusion.

        There are highly evolved technical jargons of metaphysics and theology – and every other department of philosophy. Like most jargons, they generally employ some common words. As with all jargons, these terms are given technical definitions, often related by analogy or connotation to their vulgar denotations.

        Cf., in physics: charm, right, up, down, force, power, work, charge, field, thrust, lift, current, mass, etc. Note in this connection that the equations describing the Laws of the Physical department of Natural Philosophy are, precisely, formal definitions of terms in a technical jargon. Viz., F = ma, E = mc^2.

        But lots and lots of people who like to think about theology and metaphysics don’t bother to learn the jargon of a thinker. So you get lots of confusion. Even professional philosophers do it. E.g., they criticize the arguments of Aquinas on the basis of misprisions of the terms of his jargon.

        The confusion is not so much in the jargon as in the minds of those who have not learned it.

      • Kristor:

        The confusion is not so much in the jargon as in the minds of those who have not learned it.

        Yes. In addition to a mind capable of transmitting a thought, and a mind capable of receiving it, there must be a common mode of communication between them (a common language) elsewise confusion immediately ensues.

        It has been my experience that often times liberals and conservatives of whatever variety cannot well understand one another due to differences, not in language per se but, in dialect. I take it atheists and theists experience a similar cause of confusion in their debates with one another.

      • Yes. Most atheists consistently confuse “God” with “god,” e.g.

        The same phenomenon obtains between schismatic Christians. Schisms often turn on terminological mistakes. E.g., “filioque,” or “works.”

        Several schisms appear these days to be headed toward healing, as the terminological confusions get worked out. It might take a few centuries for the politics to follow suit. This indicates that the schisms are not fundamentally theological in nature, but rather a matter of church politics – or geopolitics. The terminological wars are motivated by a prior interest in political disagreement. The terminological disagreements persist because the principals *want* to disagree.

        Returning then to the inveterate and apparently incorrigible confusion among the atheists of “God” with “god,” it often appears to me likewise that their confusion is willful, albeit not perhaps consciously so. They disagree with theism, not because it is false, but because they *want* to disagree.

        For example, Thomas Nagel writes:

        I speak from experience … I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”

        The Last Word, 130 ff.

        It would be funny, if it wasn’t so pathetic.

      • There is no danger of physicists confusing their concept of charm with the everyday meaning of charm. But theology relies on precisely that sort of confusion.

      • Still no rigorous cogent arguments, I see. That’s OK; we can wait.

        … theology relies on precisely that sort of confusion.

        In fact, almost all of theology is an earnest attempt to clear up such confusions. That there are still so many is due, not so much to the intellectual dishonesty of theologians, as to the appalling difficulty of the ideas they struggle to understand.

        That said, many people who write about theology – especially those who have concluded beforehand to the theological proposition that there’s nothing to theology, and so have never studied it seriously, if at all – are deeply confused. They are in no position to opine on the subject. These are the sort of writers who seriously propose self-refuting propositions, and can’t figure out the incoherence of their ideas even when it is explained to them.

  8. I should say, a.morphous, I meant the contradiction part in earnest. Feser’s books (which I took to be restatements of classical theist proofs for God) were a big part of my own conversion from atheism, so I genuinely would be interested if you thought there was a contradiction.

  9. a.morphous,

    “Sorry, but I don՚t.”

    OK, let the record stand that, even though philosophy is “less rigorous,” this rigorous atheist is incapable of providing a single philosophical objection to the issue at hand. So, how do you decide when mathematic proofs get to play dice?

  10. Pingback: The Atheist Cosmological Argument – The Orthosphere

Comment

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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