Comments

  • Counterargument against Homosexual as Innate
    I was struck by the small presence of AIDS in the piece. It got mentioned as a major hazard for the cause of universal acceptance.Bitter Crank

    They addressed it in more detail in the book that came after the essay, called After the Ball, where they said

    'As cynical as it may seem, AIDS gives us a chance, however brief, to establish ourselves as a victimized minority legitimately deserving of America’s special protection and care. At the same time, it generates mass hysteria of precisely the sort that has brought about public stonings and leper colonies since the Dark Ages and before. … How can we maximize the sympathy and minimize the fear? How, given the horrid hand that AIDS has dealt us, can we best play it?'

    The answer given was 'The campaign we outline in this book, though complex, depends centrally upon a program of unabashed propaganda, firmly grounded in long-established principles of psychology and advertising.'

    Another aspect of that was to switch the opprobrium that had previously been directed towards gays, back onto the accusers. By depicting 'the gay community' as a beleaguered minority and their critics as hateful bigots, the strategy was that over the course of a few years, it would become socially unnacceptable to criticize gays.
  • Counterargument against Homosexual as Innate
    I had the opinion that Alfred Kinsey has been discredited as a social scientist.

    Gay rights and gay identity is a minefield nowadays - to say anything other than to express unqualified admiration and support, is to be categorised as a racist or a bigot. It's a binary choice. This is a consequence of a successful communications and media strategy, which was laid out in a 1987 article called The Overhauling of Straight America (later published as a book).
  • Father Richard Rohr at Science and Nonduality Conference
    I acknowledge in advance that your prejudice probably amounts to an impenetrable defense against such an argument.Wayfarer

    why does evolution entail novelty? It's the same old in different percentagesAgustino

    Bingo!
  • Father Richard Rohr at Science and Nonduality Conference
    Let me tell you now what New Age really is.Agustino

    What you mean is, 'let me give you a piece of my mind'.

    Sure there's a shallow, self-obsessed side to the new age movement, but that is not what I am referring to.

    Culture and civilization is evolving, and genuinely novel cultural forms are appearing, as a result. They can't be accomodated by the previous institutional forms that grew up around religion, because the old metaphors and allegories don't map against them. But I acknowledge in advance that your prejudice probably amounts to an impenetrable defense against such an argument.
  • Against spiritualism
    Under that new (less than perfect) definition, a table is definitely physical, even if only an illusion.Samuel Lacrampe

    But I think what would be desired of anything that was truly physical, would be that it is real independently of any perception of it; its reality would not be dependent on it being perceived. Whereas, an illusion can only exist in the mind of an observer, as an illusion is, by definition, an artefact of perception.

    While it is debatable that the table that I perceive is real or an illusion, the undeniable fact is that I perceive a table.Samuel Lacrampe

    There was a famous philosopher, by the name of Berkeley, who said that what we take to be external objects are really only ideas in the minds of observers. And it seems that at this point, you're on the verge of conceding that he might actually have been correct. And if you wanted an example of what you defined as 'an extreme spiritualist' in the history of Western philosophy, then Bishop Berkeley would be your man.

    So, to be honest, I think your argument is in trouble.
  • Continuity and Mathematics
    t is just damn obvious that life (and mind) are irreducibly semiotic in their nature.apokrisis

    In the beginning was the word, eh? ;-)
  • Continuity and Mathematics
    Well, I think Apokrisis' background is biological sciences. 'Biosemiotics' is the discipline that is descended from Pierce. There's a particular scientist by the name of Howard Pattee who is a key figure. Google the phrase 'epistemic cut' if you're interested. (Incidentally, agree with Searle on that count.)
  • Continuity and Mathematics
    ...the whole point of Peirce - as managing to resolve the tortuous dilemmas of Kant, Descartes and all the way back to the Miletians vs the Stoics - is that it is itself metaphysically fundamental that reality is organised by its own sign relations.apokrisis

    Just struggling a bit with how 'sign relations' come into the picture outside of biology.....
  • Father Richard Rohr at Science and Nonduality Conference
    You're capable of making a contribution, but you have a very high signal-to-noise ratio - you make many pejorative comments about other posters, what you think their motives are, and so on, none of which are connected to the actual topic. Every so often you will actually engage with a philosophical analysis, if you could simply try and stick to that then maybe you wouldn't attract so much negative attention. But at this point in time, you're earning the criticism.
  • Hidden Figures (Movie)
    I saw Imitation Game and liked it OK, but I preferred Hidden Figures. There are films I have liked more, but in terms of recent movies, it's one of my current faves. Actually one of the things I liked about it was 'mathematician as heroine'. I was terrible at school maths, but have come to realise how powerful maths is later in life.
  • Father Richard Rohr at Science and Nonduality Conference
    I wasn't aware that one could be confirmed as a "Christian."Arkady

    There's a ceremony called confirmation in Anglicanism (and I'm sure the other denominations.) It's the standard rite-of-passage into the Church. It takes place at early adolescence. You have to learn a Catechism and go to a set number of services. It seemed like a lot of work to me, I was a poor student anyway, and my family was not at all encouraging about it, so I didn't go ahead with it. But that was also because I didn't know if I really believed it. I've never been atheist, but I also don't have any kind of image or idea of what God is. (That is why, later, I found the 'way of unknowing' congenial.)

    I've repeatedly ask what phrases such as "ground of all being" mean, and have never been given a good answer.Arkady

    I think that's because of the spirit in which you ask the question. As you're naturally inclined to scepticism about anything religious, your questions are of the 'clay pidgeon' variety, i.e. elicit a response which you then proceed to shoot at.

    There is a description of 'the ground of being' in Paul Tillich's books, and other books by recent philosophers of religion. An example:

    "Existence - Existence refers to what is finite and fallen and cut of from its true being. Within the finite realm issues of conflict between, for example, autonomy (Greek: 'autos' - self, 'nomos' - law) and heteronomy (Greek: 'heteros' - other, 'nomos' - law) abound (there are also conflicts between the formal/emotional and static/dynamic). Resolution of these conflicts lies in the essential realm (the Ground of Meaning/the Ground of Being) which humans are cut off from yet also dependent upon ('In existence man is that finite being who is aware both of his belonging to and separation from the infinite' (Newport p.67f)). Therefore existence is estrangement."

    "Although this looks like Tillich was an atheist such misunderstanding only arises due to a simplistic understanding of his use of the word existence. What Tillich is seeking to lead us to is an understanding of the 'God above God'. We have already seen earlier that the Ground of Being (God) must be separate from the finite realm (which is a mixture of being and non-being) and that God cannot be a being. God must be beyond the finite realm. Anything brought from essence into existence is always going to be corrupted by ambiguity and our own finitude. Thus statements about God must always be symbolic (except the statement 'God is the Ground of Being'). Although we may claim to know God (the Infinite) we cannot. The moment God is brought from essence into existence God is corrupted by finitude and our limited understanding. In this realm we can never fully grasp (or speak about) who God really is. The infinite cannot remain infinite in the finite realm. That this rings true can be seen when we realize there are a multitude of different understandings of God within the Christian faith alone. They cannot all be completely true so there must exist a 'pure' understanding of God (essence) that each of these are speaking about (or glimpsing aspects of)...."

    This plainly diverges from the depiction of the 'god as person' given in the Plantinga quote. It's more like the approach in classical theology, which says that God is not actually good, but that 'goodness' is an analogy, likewise the other supposed attributes of God. But to really explore the question, takes at the very least an open mind towards it, as it is the kind of question that can only be explored by contemplation. It doesn't concern a crisp definition which gives a finite and obviously measurable output, like a formula.


    [Eagleton] says, "Doesn't Dawkins realize [word salad, word salad],
    Arkady

    I think that simply conveys your own inability to comprehend his review (and yes, it's a review, rather than a philosophical analysis.) I personally found his criticism perfectly lucid. (Thomas Nagel's review, entitled The Fear of Religion, was much more along the lines of philosophical analysis.)

    The New Atheists don't engage with your notion of God, and so they're wrongheaded, in your view. If this view is so wrongheaded, why are you not equally vituperative towards those religious believers who believe in the "wrong" sort of God?Arkady

    Partially because they're inclined to be beyond argument, and partially because you're a lot less likely to encounter them on philosophy forums. But people who really do believe in biblical creationism are so immune to reason, that it is clearly pointless to argue with them. They argue with or about the fossil evidence. //ps// Although I've also come to the view that to argue against religion on the basis of fossil evidence, is a type of fundamentalism.//

    and cosmological and teleological arguments for God's existence (yes, existence) abound today.Arkady

    I am well aware of that. But at issue is a very difficult question of ontology - what does it mean to say that 'God exists'? As the Tillich quote above indicates, the very term 'existence' implies 'separated, standing apart'. There's another great column I quote from time to time by Bishop Pierre Whalon, God does not Exist, which has a similar perspective - that 'what exists' is of a different order to the source of existence. (Whalon's article is very much in keeping with Platonic Christianity, which in turn is very much at odds with general Protestant philosophy of religion, in my view.)

    This type of 'hierarchical understanding' used to be represented in the Great Chain of Being, versions of which are found in many different cultures. It differentiates between the mineral, animal, human, angelic and divine realms, which all exist on different levels or 'modes':

    Steps.gif
    The Great Chain of Being - traditional woodcut.

    In early theology, this differentiation of levels was articulated by John Scotus Eirugena. Very hard to present summarily, but a key point is as follows (from the SEP entry)

    Eriugena proceeds to list ‘five ways of interpreting’ (quinque modi interpretationis) the manner in which things may be said to be or not to be (Periphyseon, I.443c-446a). According to the first mode, things accessible to the senses and the intellect are said to be, whereas anything which, ‘through the excellence of its nature’ (per excellentiam suae naturae), transcends our faculties are said not to be. According to this classification, God, because of his transcendence is said not to be. He is ‘nothingness through excellence’ (nihil per excellentiam).

    The second mode of being and non-being is seen in the ‘orders and differences of created natures’ (I.444a), whereby, if one level of nature is said to be, those orders above or below it are said not to be:

    For an affirmation concerning the lower (order) is a negation concerning the higher, and so too a negation concerning the lower (order) is an affirmation concerning the higher. (Periphyseon, I.444a). According to this mode, the affirmation of man is the negation of angel and vice versa (affirmatio enim hominis negatio est angeli, negatio vero hominis affirmatio est angeli, I.444b).

    In subsequent centuries, this hierarchical ontology became progressively 'flattened', until we arrive at modern philosophy, when it was decided that only the material layer exists (which is scientific materialism). So Dawkins, et al, can only conceive of that level or mode of being, and then says 'it is ridiculous to believe that there is a God' - which it is, if that is your understanding of the nature of reality. You can fire up the LHC, or the Hubble, and he's not 'out there somewhere' or 'in there anywhere'. In the sense in which Dawkins, et al, understand the meaning of 'existence', then indeed, God does not exist.
  • Father Richard Rohr at Science and Nonduality Conference
    thanks Benkei! Spoken like a true Scotsman!
  • How can non-conscious p-zombies behave as if they are conscious?
    physically identical to conscious beings, but lacking consciousness.Chany

    'physically identical to water, but not liquid'.
  • Against spiritualism
    Now a table is made of matter (atoms).Samuel Lacrampe

    Science can't really tell you if the world is real or not. It's feasible that the world might be a grand illusion, but an illusion that works consistently, in such a way that it is scientifically predictable. I don't personally subscribe to such a view, but the point is, that is a metaphysical question, rather than a scientific question - in other words, you can't appeal to science to resolve the question.

    Secondly, the 'nature of matter' is really rather mysterious in its own right. It used to be thought that matter was ultimately composed of atoms, in the form of indivisible point-particles, but the nature of atoms has turned out to be quite deep question in its own right. That very question is the subject of the Large Hadron Collider, which is the most expensive and powerful scientific apparatus ever made. But at this point in time, there is still no truly 'fundamental particle' that has been found by the LHC.
  • Father Richard Rohr at Science and Nonduality Conference
    Actually, I too don't believe in a God who is a person (one of the reasons I didn't get confirmed as Christian, as that was obligatory.) But the way I interpret it is that the ultimate truth is not 'it', but a 'you'. (I think I read in another of Eagleton's books, Culture and the Death of God, that this is something from Schellling.)

    But, the upshot is, that perhaps this reality is quite capabe of manifesting as a being, because its actual nature is intelligent or alive (or even life itself). So, it's personal in the sense of not being a thing or force or material energy, but it's not a person in the sense of being a 'supersized human'. (I don't agree at all with Plantinga's depiction in the quote above, I think it's blatantly anthropomorphic.)

    As for 'the condition of the possibility' etc - of course, it's a highly awkward phrase. The trouble is, the subject matter is such that it resists any kind of easy verbalisation. Look at the rhetorical knots that get tied around the so-called 'hard problem of consciousness' - and there, you're talking about something which is ostensibly obvious to anyone engaged in the conversation. (After all, we're all conscious.) Whereas, here, you're ostensibly talking about 'the first principle' or 'the origin of all that is'. So getting it wrong, misunderstanding or misrepresenting it, goes with the territory.

    So the fact that

    perhaps most religious believers are not adherents of the sort of hot air suffused word salad that Eagleton spews here.Arkady

    Doesn't really mean anything about the truth or falsehood of Eageton's critique of Dawkins. The fact that millions of people might believe something to be the case, doesn't mean it's true, as atheists like Dawkins never tire of telling us.

    It's like: don't try and use fancy philosophical analysis to talk about what it might really mean; what it really means is what the believer-in-the-street says it means. And what they say it means, is a sky-father-god figure, who throws thunderbolts, and designs. Therefore a 'lowest common denominator' criticism of religion is all that's needed, as that is the only kind of religious sensibility that needs to be discussed.
  • Continuity and Mathematics
    What is this, a 'meta-argument'? An argument about an argument? Anyway, it was this:

    this is why the Toms and Fishfrys are so content with what they learn in class. To the degree that philosophy can still make a feeble groaning complaint about incompleteness, they feel utterly justified not to care. They are trained within a social institution that had a purpose (hey guys, lets build machines!) and the very fact of having a definite purpose is (even for pragmatists) where an equally sharp state of indifference for what lies beyond the purpose to be fully justified.

    OK, maybe I picked the wrong pejorative but it's at the least, highly patronising. The implication being 'people like this only recite what they're learned in class, they're not really capable of philosophy'. You could have made the substantative point without resorting to blatant ad hominems. Anyway, I will keep out of it, I can see I am only further derailing what was a good thread. Sorry for barging in.
  • Father Richard Rohr at Science and Nonduality Conference
    Two derivations of the word 'religion'.

    1. Latin 'religio', 'an attitude of awe and reverence to the Gods'. (This was the sense of the word in respect of which Socrates was accused of atheism)

    2. 'religare' - derived from ligare (ligament, ligature) 'to join'; in this context, 're-joining' So the meaning here is closer to that of the Sanskrit 'yoga', meaning 'binding' or 'joining' or 'uniting'.

    I think a great deal of popular discourse, and even educated discource, about religions, assumes the first meaning and/or is unaware of the second.
  • Continuity and Mathematics
    I would call it brutal. Telling someone to fuck off is simply vulgar. Anyway, carry on, I'm glad to see Fishfry has joined here, he has completely different interests to myself and I find what he says interesting, even though most of it goes over my head.
  • Continuity and Mathematics
    I've tried to point out to fishfry, I wasn't really attacking him personally...apokrisis

    Sure didn't read like that to me. Seemed a pretty brutal put-down, actually.