• Tom Storm
    8.5k
    Hart's pluralism is therefore "localized" (↪Leontiskos).Leontiskos

    I heard Hart say that he dislikes perennialism and sees himself more as a syncretist. For what that;'s worth.
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    - Yes, and I would emphasize that Hart is not Hick, but it would be interesting to try to find a passage where Hart opines on Hick.
  • Wayfarer
    21k


    Differentiates syncretism (which he likes) from perennialism (which he doesn’t). Describes John Hick as a ‘well-meaning syncretist thinker, not a perennialist’. Sees value in syncretism and says the different faiths complement each other (as did I).
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    Describes John Hick as a ‘well-meaning syncretist thinker, not a perennialist’.Wayfarer

    Interesting. I never much liked syncretism (homogenisation, cultural appropriation, etc) but then I'm not a theist, so who cares?
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    Differentiates syncretism (which he likes) from perennialism (which he doesn’t). Describes John Hick as a ‘well-meaning syncretist thinker, not a perennialist’. Sees value in syncretism and says the different faiths complement each other (as did I).Wayfarer

    Interesting. I actually think that is a helpful video for showing why Hart does not follow Hick. I am not familiar with the term "perennialism" as Hart and @Tom Storm are using it, but when Hart here says that Hick was not a perennialist he is more or less saying that Hick is not a proponent of a "cult" (in the pejorative sense). Of course this is true. (Hart's adjective "well-meaning" is a clue that he does not agree with Hick. It's hard to say why the interviewer inserted Hick into this topic. Hart assumes that the interviewer is under the impression that Hick was a "perennialist.")

    Some quotes from the video:

    That whole tradition [of perennialism] can be tossed in the waste basket.

    I am much more interested in... Not trying to deny what differentiates [religious traditions] from one another, and not being afraid to discover what unites them to one another.
    — David Bentley Hart

    Throughout this video Hart is doing something that Hick's thesis does not allow Hick to do. Hart is making value judgments between different religious traditions. As I understand it, Hick is committed to a kind of non-hierarchical religious landscape. All religions are differently interpreting the self-same divine reality, and no one interpretation is better than another. To begin placing religious traditions within a hierarchy would be to begin slipping away from pluralism (and this would require knowledge of the noumenal).

    Hart's vision is hierarchical, as is the vision of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism in their traditional forms. I actually think most religions are hierarchical in the sense of believing that some religious expressions are better and truer than others, with the possible exception of something like Hinduism.

    It has been many years since I visited the debates that resulted from Hick's thesis, and obviously Hick does try to respond to some of these fundamental objections. But in cases such as this I don't think counterarguments will succeed. Hick is either a pluralist or else he is committed to religious hierarchy. He can't be both, as these are opposed poles of meta-religious thinking. As many have noted, Hick's trajectory must be understood in terms of a reaction against the exclusivist fundamentalism of his youth.

    To be clear, the problem in these debates is a false dichotomy: pluralism or exclusivism. This dichotomy was broken down explicitly at the Catholic Second Vatican Council, but it was surely present before the Council in various religious traditions. What the Council proposed (in Lumen Gentium #8 & #16) was a form of religious hierarchy, where both disjuncts of the dichotomy are avoided: it is not that all religions are equally true (pluralism), nor that one religion is true and all others are false (exclusivism). Instead there obtains a hierarchy of religious truth and value.*

    * I am aware that this idea is hard for secular folks to countenance, lol. Regardless, in truth I believe the secular mind also ranks religions.
  • NotAristotle
    252
    I would not say that what you have said implies nature's negation. On the other hand, I find what you have said to be coherent, even though I disagree with the naturalist thesis.

    Perhaps I was wrong to suggest that nature is both orderly and disorderly.
  • Wayfarer
    21k
    I am not familiar with the term "perennialism"Leontiskos

    The ‘philosophia perennis’ is the idea that there is a kind of mystical universalism of which all the primary spiritual traditions are expressions. Specifically, ‘perennialism’ refers to a group of mainly independent scholars who wrote on those themes in the 20th century. Those Hart mentions are René Guenon and Frithjof Schuon but there are several others (including Ananda Coomaraswamy and Julius Evola). As Hart notes, many of them tended towards reactionary fascism as they despised modernity and political liberalism (indeed the definitive textbook on them is Against the Modern World by Mark Sedgwick. I’m not an admirer of those writers in particular but I accept the basic idea that there is a common theme in many classical spiritual philosophies. There is one ‘perennialist’ philosopher, Sayyed Hussein Nasr, of Iranian origin, whom I believe enjoys a reasonable reputation in current scholarship.)

    The obvious reason why the interviewer mentioned John Hick is that they were discussing syncretism and defining that in distinction from ‘perennialism’. If you read Hart’s The Experience of God it is a thoroughly syncretist book.
  • Wayfarer
    21k
    A naturalistic argument for religion is that only human beings are endowed with the potential ability to discern the sacred. I’ll mention John Vervaeke’s idea of ‘extended naturalism’ in that context.

    John Vervaeke's concept of "extended naturalism" explores the interplay between naturalism, spirituality, and the sense of sacredness, moving beyond traditional scientific reductionism and materialism. This approach emphasizes the consilience between structural and content arguments, rooted in neoplatonic thinking, and explores the nuanced relationship between top-down and bottom-up processes in nature. Vervaeke and his colleagues discuss this concept extensively in the context of "Transcendent Naturalism," which aims to bridge the gap between empirical science and deeper spiritual insights, without resorting to reliance on religious dogma.

    Vervaeke's discussions often touch on the limitations of traditional propositional knowing in fully comprehending concepts like sacredness, proposing instead that sacredness can be viewed as an inexhaustible and paradoxical fountain of intelligibility. This perspective sees the sacred as something that transcends traditional notions of understanding, pointing to a depth of reality that goes beyond the surface level of empirical facts. In his podcast, Vervaeke delves into concepts like the soul and spirit as ineffable aspects of human experience, highlighting our capacity for self-transcendence and the role of symbolic ideals and transcendence in enriching philosophical discourse.

    One of the key insights from Vervaeke's work is the idea that truth and reality possess layers that cannot be fully captured through rational analysis or empirical observation alone. This "extended" form of naturalism suggests that understanding the deeper aspects of existence requires an openness to experiences of transcendence, where one can encounter truths about reality that are not accessible through conventional means.

    (citation:1,Redefining Spirit, Soul, and God | Transcendent Naturalism #3 – Dr. John Vervaeke – Podcast – Podtail](https://podtail.com/en/podcast/john-vervaeke/redefining-spirit-soul-and-god-transcendent-natura/) [oai_citation:2,Vervaeke-Henriques 'Transcendent Naturalism' - The Philosophy Forum](https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/14505/vervaeke-henriques-transcendent-naturalism) [oai_citation:3,Redefining Spirit, Soul, And God | Transcendent Naturalism #3 Dr. John Vervaeke podcast](https://player.fm/series/dr-john-vervaeke/redefining-spirit-soul-and-god-transcendent-naturalism-3).
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    - Makes sense. One aspect of this has traditionally been called natural theology. In the West we do seem to have a difficult time distinguishing natural religion from revealed religion.
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    I don't see anything incoherent with positing that some of nature is orderly, and some may not be.
  • NotAristotle
    252
    Seems contradictory to me to say that the same Nature is both orderly and disorderly.

    Question: Does naturalism explain the phenomena it purports to? I guess what I am asking is: what does naturalism say requires an explanation, and does naturalism succeed at explaining what it says requires explaining? Similarly, would you mind expounding the Naturalism Thesis?

    Side note: it seems to me that if we talk about laws, we must talk about a lawgiver, although you seem to disagree with this.
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    Seems contradictory to me to say that the same Nature is both orderly and disorderly

    That's not what I claimed. Nature has elements of order and disorder.

    Does naturalism explain the phenomena it purports to?

    Yes, but so does all metaphysical theories per se. The question is whether or not it succeeds in explaining sufficiently phenomena in general. I would say so--obviously, that is a contentious claim.

    what does naturalism say requires an explanation

    All phenomena--i.e., appearances--of which we experience. Every metaphysical theory, if it is robust, will claim to have a good framework for explaining all phenomena (in general) or all explainable phenomena (in general).

    and does naturalism succeed at explaining what it says requires explaining?

    I think so.

    Similarly, would you mind expounding the Naturalism Thesis?

    I would say the thesis of naturalism is that everything in reality is natural. By 'natural', some mean 'capable of scientific investigation'; however, for me, I mean 'a member of nature'.

    The idea is that the phenomena which we all experience is best explained by appeal to natural entities--i.e., entities that are members of nature--and nothing else. The Nature with which we are all well acquainted, can be extended to all of reality.

    it seems to me that if we talk about laws, we must talk about a lawgiver, although you seem to disagree with this.

    Correct. I don't see how a 'law' presupposes an agent which created it. It seems perfectly plausible that 'laws' are behavioral patterns of how things relate to one another, and perhaps they are fundamental or derivates of other natural things.
  • NotAristotle
    252
    I'd like to respond to a few comments you stated and also ask the following question:

    What will we take to be a sufficient and adequate explanation of a given phenomenon?

    I'll give an example: let's suppose there is a storm. Now, you want to say, look, that's not Zeus being angry, there's a perfectly natural reason behind the storm. Okay, sounds good. You'll say, the storm happened because water evaporated and condensed around dust particles in the sky, these further condensed into a cumulonimbus cloud, and, after a bit more condensation and perhaps some atmospheric electrical activity or something, the storm happened, lightning and all.

    Then I say, "okay Bob Ross, I think that's a good explanation, but what is it that explanation is supposed to answer?" And you'd say something like, "it's the water cycle, it explains the storm." Then I'd respond, "ah, okay, that's good and well, but what about this water cycle - does it have an explanation also, or is it without any kind of explanation and is explanatorily fundamental?" I am not sure what you would say. Perhaps you would say, "well if it's a phenomena, then it must have an explanation." The explanation of the water cycle is...[Earth's gravity] [the accumulation of liquid water on the surface of the planet] [the electro-magnetic activity of the magnetosphere] [etc.]." But then suppose I were to pry further and say, "very well, and what explains those?" And this process may go on until one of us is either out of knowledge or out of patience.

    Now this explanation either proceeds on infinitely, or it has a starting point. If it proceeds infinitely, I am inclined to regard that as a most unparsimonious account of reality. If on the other hand, the explanation terminates somewhere, it either terminates in something natural or not. If it terminates in something natural, I will agree with you that this naturalism is most adequate, complete, sufficient, and all-around a great explanation. But if it terminates in something not natural, then I think I will have to stick with my original supernatural suppositions.

    however, for me, I mean 'a member of nature'.Bob Ross
    Okay, as in plants, animals, people, rocks, and so on and so on, these are the natural members correct? Tell me again how laws fit into that ontology?

    It seems perfectly plausible that 'laws' are behavioral patterns of how things relate to one another, and perhaps they are fundamental or derivates of other natural things.Bob Ross

    I don't think laws can be derivative of natural things, otherwise they would be ordered by the natural things not the other way around, right? In that case, we would have to regard the natural laws as being more fundamental.
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    Side note: it seems to me that if we talk about laws, we must talk about a lawgiver, although you seem to disagree with this.NotAristotle

    Side note response - Isn't this just an argument from Muslim and Christian apologetics 101? For one thing this is an anthropomorphism fallacy - by attributing human-like characteristics (such as legislating laws) to the concept of the 'laws of nature'. Laws of nature are descriptive, not prescriptive, and do not imply a conscious lawgiver. The word 'laws' is a distraction. 'Natural regularities' might be a better term.

    It also sounds like a fallacy from incredulity - 'I can't understand why there are regularities in nature, so I'll attribute them to a magic man (lawgiver).' This overlooks the possibility of naturalistic explanations and assumes that one's personal incredulity constitutes evidence for the existence of a lawgiver.
  • AmadeusD
    1.9k
    aws of nature are descriptive, not prescriptive, and do not imply a conscious lawgiver. The word 'laws' is a distraction. 'Natural regularities' might be a better term.Tom Storm

    :ok:

    This is hte perfect place for Hume's 'constant conjunction'.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2k


    For one thing this is an anthropomorphism fallacy - by attributing human-like characteristics (such as legislating laws) to the concept of the 'laws of nature'. Laws of nature are descriptive, not prescriptive, and do not imply a conscious lawgiver. The word 'laws' is a distraction. 'Natural regularities' might be a better term.

    :up:

    Strangely, this is a very common conception outside of religious contexts as well — that "laws" and "regularity" can only exist as the sui generis creations of minds. I have never found arguments of this sort compelling, all though it's worth noting that they also make accusations of "anthropomorphizing." I.e. "how can you say nature acts in any law-like way, you only know that your experience of nature works in that way." "But," they will claim, "the mind 'constructs' that view," and so relying on it for any judgement leads to a sort of "making the world into the image of the mind."

    I am not sure how these folks think they have grounds for even believing other minds exist in this case though.
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    I apologize: I missed this response!

    What will we take to be a sufficient and adequate explanation of a given phenomenon?

    Exactly what is sufficient in order to explain something has a hint of subjectivity to it; but, generally, I would say that the explanation is sufficient if it has ample evidence supporting, and it explains the full range of questions that could be asked of it. Of course, we may bicker about what exactly constitutes ‘ample evidence’ and ‘evidence’, but generally I think that is what we mean.

    I'll give an example: let's suppose there is a storm.

    You are absolutely spot on with your anticipation of my responses: I would say that the explanation of why there even is a water cycle is going to be akin to the explanation of how a storm works.

    Now this explanation either proceeds on infinitely, or it has a starting point. If it proceeds infinitely, I am inclined to regard that as a most unparsimonious account of reality

    So, upon reading this, I am not so sure I am really a naturalist in the full, ontological sense of the term; but perhaps just a methodological naturalist. As I don’t find any good reasons to believe that causality is finite nor infinite; and I certainly don’t think that we understand exactly, even in terms of naturalism, what the most primitive, fundamental natural entities are.

    I find that a lot of the metaphysics around it on both sides is just pure speculation—analysis deprived of empirical content.

    The final and proper naturalism, which would have the answers you are seeking here, would only be the final result of the meticulous expedition and analysis of reality (if that is even possible for us to do).

    My point with the OP is that it seems like naturalism is a better choice because it seems, so far, to explain everything more than adequately; and if there isn’t anything demanding the need to posit something supernatural, then why do it?

    Okay, as in plants, animals, people, rocks, and so on and so on, these are the natural members correct? Tell me again how laws fit into that ontology?

    I don't think laws can be derivative of natural things, otherwise they would be ordered by the natural things not the other way around, right?

    By ‘things’, I would not referring to objects but, rather, just generic ‘entities’. Laws are ‘entities’ in this sense.

    If I were to indulge myself by coming up with a complete (ontological) naturalism, then I would probably say that some Law is supreme, and all other laws derive from it, kind of like Platonism but without the supersensible abstract object realm, and so, you are absolutely right that, laws are more fundamental than objects.

    The problem with indulging myself like that, is twofold: (1) as already noted, it is too speculative (since we do not have any sufficient empirical content to analysis it with) and (2) nature has proven, time and time again, to behave really weirdly (as a giant web of inter-relations) of which our mathematical and physical models only do just that...provide a map of the territory.

    Bob
  • BillMcEnaney
    54
    Would someone please tell me why there's causality when naturalism presupposes that causality exists? If I argue scientifically for something that science presupposes, my argument will be circular.
  • BillMcEnaney
    54
    I asked about causality because I doubt that there are brute facts. A brute fact is a state of affairs that can't be explained, even in principle. So, there would be no way to identify a brute fact since the ability to identify one would presuppose an explanation that by definition, no brute fact can have.
  • RogueAI
    2.5k
    Is naturalism really more parsimonious than, say, idealism? Take the Many World Interpretation of QM. Kastrup arguers that countless universes popping into existence all the time can hardly be called "parsimonious". Do you think he has a point?
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