“Still They Persist”!

Presumption is something we sometimes have to do. When we presume, however, we already admit that we do not know to be true what it is we’re having to presume is true. That ought to go without saying but there’s a reason why it has to be spelled out. Whatever we build on top of these presumptions, we must equally admit that either it too is a presumption, or that the basis of the truth of it isn’t the presumption but something matter of fact, and that any belief built from presumption only exists to prove the presumption on which it is based.

Well, what does that mean in English?

It means that Presuppositional Apologetics, for example, is self-refuting. They suggest, for instance, that we have to presume mind-independent moral standards exists in order to say something is good or evil. They say the same thing about logic. They say the same thing about many things which have perfectly good explanations and about things which are just brute facts. But in acknowledging “there is evil” or “there is logic”, they appeal to a fact of morality and a fact of logic. It isn’t the presuppositions but these facts that allows us to talk about them. What they’re actually trying to prove is that the presupposition itself is true; not that the presupposition is requisite! Again, they’re saying simply that there’s a reason why there are these facts and therefore (without any warrant whatsoever), their presupposition is correct.

I’m happy to say that Epistemology needs no presuppositions in the least. I’m happy to say that God cannot explain anything because God is exactly a presupposition irrelevant to anything actually proved under it, and in having to be presumed, nothing a person can know in any epistemological sense. God is the idea being proven, not the idea from which we explain other things! I’m also happy to say we need not presume morality or logic are mind-independent in order for us to talk about them or employ them as if they did.

Just a thought.

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Peace, At Both Ends

Atheism and God speak to me in the very same way and it sounds like nothing yet is everything.

It sounds like peace.

The Atheist complaint is about the flagrant immorality entailed in Theism; it’s a call to peace.

The Theist in some way has in mind that “where the spirit of the Lord is, there is peace”.

Let that sink in for a minute.

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I keep running into this with believers, so let me rinse and repeat:

“God” is a word with no meaning.

When we say “God is love” or that God is found say, in numinous experience, we are only saying that what we mean by the word “God” is that the meanings there are for “love” import to “God”. In other words, the two are interchangeable. In the case of experience, we are simply naming a certain type of experience. These signifiers give “God” meaning, “God” does not give them meaning. The naming of experiences, “God”, doesn’t rely on any deity actually existing; this is a naming game alone. Here too, the meaning of an experience is imported to give meaning to the word, “God”, rather than the other way round.

The idea of God may be no more than the reification of all of these meanings and may have no more reality than this.

It makes no sense to say God is this or that because He isn’t any this or that. If there is a God, then He is beyond all such terms and ideas we have for Him.

Dear Protestant, your god-talk has to do with you, not God, and none of it applies to God, necessitates His existence, nor is God what gives it meaning. See all of the above if by now you still ask why.

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Giving Up The Ghost

If we can’t determine if there’s a God, then what we say about God doesn’t hinge on the nature of God or His existence. If Doxastic Involutarism is true, then the enterprises of belief in the doxastic sense are meaningless; we cannot choose to believe in God, Jesus having x, y, or z properties, virgins giving birth, and so on. If belief entails to action or commitment to act, then salvation is aside from Christianity, and Jesus as “kind elderly person on medication” is just as meaningful as Jesus as “third person of a limited set polytheism” or Jesus as archetype as Adam, Moses, Abraham, Joseph, or Hosea.

In other words, salvation is found in participating or engaging the world one way versus another, and nothing about Christianity itself guarantees any meaning other modes of Philosophy or experience cannot or do not provide. Therefore, Christianity entails to no propositions which at all have the ability to change our behavior; only narratives, which like others, help us rethink things. That is, because there’s nothing to say we believe when we say we believe there is a God, Jesus is his son, or Mary was a virgin; those beliefs are not beliefs at all because they cannot at all be acted on.

More Atheists are created these days merely because of Protestant preachers of one sort or other (ministers, pastors, theologians, etc.) than anything else. That is from their continued assurances that one can be certain of these fantastic ideas they’ve espoused, yet the resulting Atheism or the flailing fight to yet believe even still, ensures that’s entirely not the case. When faith is restored back to the task of orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy, then we’ll have finally given up the right ghosts.

Just a thought.

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Who is like You, God, tolerating iniquity and forgiving transgression … ?” 

 Micha 7:18

Whose iniquities does God tolerate? A person who forgives the transgressions of another.

Rosh Hashanah 17a

In Judaism, forgiveness in central and both the offended and the offender have to seek it. So just as we see Joseph (having no offense to his brothers, generously forgave them all. Without their assent but as a result of forgiveness, came back into relationship with him), why should we see Jesus any differently, as if his forgiveness has anything to do with our permission or acceptance.

The whole world has begun a process of reconciliation that, through a Christian perspective, began with creation and ended with Christ; it is finished.

Just a thought.

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On Vocality …

I cannot stress this enough.

When we say things like “God is love” or “God is peace”, we are defining what we mean by the word, “god”. What we cannot be and are not doing is saying that “god” is what defines either love or peace. That’s because “god” has no inherent meaning aside from those meanings we choose to use in order to give it any meaning at all. God, if such a thing exists, isn’t either love or peace because God transcends. Love and peace would then only stand to be effects by which we know God. But if that’s the case, one may completely dismiss the idea of God because the ineffable, the transcendent, has no causal proposition to any effects. In other words, no one in their right mind would find it meaningful​ to say “Love is love” or “Peace is peace” or that “Love is the cause of love” and “Peace is the cause of peace.” And so is the fate with any signifier we’d use for God.

“God” literally is exactly what we say He is, exactly what we claim He is; only He really isn’t at all in any epistemological sense; “God” is an idea and, God may not exist at all, proving the meaning of “god” and the meaningfulness of god-talk isn’t tied to God.

Just a thought.

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Process Confusion

Process, Provision, Or Purpose?

Why should we favor a process over forming conclusions?

Why should we favor any one process over another?

The answer is that processes serve a purpose. If we are interested in saying things that best describe some state of affairs, then the purpose of any means getting us there, or even getting us situated in order to get there, is judged according to the conclusions those processes bring us to.

Truths are justified beliefs. Beliefs are affirmed empirically. Processes, say the methods of Science for instance, are vindicated in that they do what we want them to do. The complaint is that we are only at best incomplete with any conclusion, so we ought to hold conclusions as provisional and focus more on processes.

The problem there has origami folds of difficulty and I’ll pick up just a few:

First is that one presumes various processes are reliable, but this seals the fate of process with that of its fruit, conclusion. A process is reliable if it produces sound conclusions. So, we cannot favor process any more than conclusion when we start with the admission that conclusions are sketchy. Both must be provisional then.

Second is that if we divorce processes from conclusions, we have nothing to attach it to; those processes no longer have an interest in anything relating to knowledge in any sense related to warrant. Without some purpose, process has no meaning.

Third is that as part of a feedback loop between experience and explanation, conclusions are mandatory but processes actually aren’t at all. Most people have a myriad of beliefs that they are entitled to and that are justified, yet they cannot themselves explain why they are justified. It is only the Epistemologist that would complain that unless a person can account for their beliefs, they’re at least not justified in believing whatever they do believe. And, we’re already admitting that conclusions are sketchy; processes are the cause. So we can’t hardly be so skeptical about conclusions yet demand these folks have any process at all. That is, unless justified beliefs, truth, is the aim of epistemological processes rather than process for process’ sake. However, their process of lacking processes only belies a strategy. Again we know these folks hold justified beliefs. Balking about lacking processes is only owning that we want processes in place to increase the volume of no less than justified beliefs, ie. better conclusions hinged on good reasons to assert rather than on any process at all. Warranted assertability being the purpose after all.

Fourth, if the aim is to have a multiplicity of explanations for some state of affairs, then we cannot hold that a single process can provide a diversity of explanations; the more reliable a process, necessarily, the more likely we are to have a single conclusion from it. Too, in wanting to have more than one explanation, we’re left asking why. At that point, we’re talking about a strategy. We are dually admitting that conclusion and processes are indeed best kept provisionally. That is, that because one requires the other, none guarantee warranted assertability.

Finally, the only process we can absolutely commit to is discarding processes that don’t work, but this is no different than discarding conclusions that don’t work either; the one is an extension of the o

Just a thought.


Love And Other Ideas

Epistemic entitlement in principle is much like other perceptual states.

It would be out of place it seems, to ask yourself why you were first smitten by your lover. There are words we can use and reasons we can articulate that would explain in part, but those same features may actually apply to others we don’t love or even to those we may hate. It would beg the question as to why those features lead your affections to one but not another given they all share them. Too, that feature list may be the same as mine but I find I love someone else entirely and find no affection for your mate. At the bottom of those reasons one may give to establish that there is love there and that one is justified in loving that person, there’s a jes nes se qua which is the compelling reason one’s mind changed from “not loving” to “now loving”.

It’s this idea best exemplified in asking why I may love you that entitlements are understood. The idea is that why I love you is because I am as I am and I simply love whatever it is I find you to be. I cannot articulate why I genuinely​ love you, but I know that I do. My being entitled to love you isn’t just that I ought to be able to love anyone I want. It’s that I am entitled to love anyone I genuinely love despite my ability or inability to express why I do.

There are things we are entitled to believe because we find them so obvious to believe that like love, it is effort lost if someone were to say those beliefs aren’t justified for the mere fact that we didn’t argue or think about them or didn’t even know why we believed at all.

Is it an unjustified belief that I exist even though reason and evidence — as Descartes so brilliantly made clear by the time we get to the end of his third meditation — cannot justify asserting that I do?

There are scores of brute facts like existence that we are entitled to believe and which warrant asserting as being the case, despite their independence of rational justification or evidence.

As this has possible implications on Theology and Atheism, the believer is entitled to the belief something like a god may exist as long as it is from a compelling, genuine impulse. However, the Atheist is likewise so entitled to the belief that there are no deity or even just in denying claims that “There are deity” is true. Too, neither are entitled to assert these beliefs as true, because “God” is a metaphysical proposition and therefore not truth-bearing. So while many modern Atheists contend nothing should be believed without reason or evidence, Theists are right in appealing to modern Epistemology which has long denied that as a requirement for truth-candidates. However, the Atheist is completely right in pointing out, without knowing it, that whatever beliefs to which a person is entitled, god-talk is not of that sort.

Just a thought.

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Properly Meaningless Beliefs

Most have heard the question, “How do I know reality is real or whether or not I’m just a brain in a vat?” Some think that if we can’t tell, then we don’t have any way to know what’s true and what isn’t. But for any question that cannot be answered using evidence or some other means of falsification and validation, the answer either way doesn’t actually matter.

If we must merely suppose things like reality or God or regularity and uniformity in nature or the existence of other minds, then we are equally merely supposing we ought to act one way versus another; it’s artificial.

It turns out that supposing reality is really real or that I’m a brain in a vat doesn’t at all effect my behavior either way, as long as I cannot discover what the case actually is. The same is true with the existence of God and so on. In that case, these “cornerstone positions” are only so-called. That’s for the fact that the reliability of how I go about justifying my experience only hinges on how well my means and methods help me come to describe my experiences, whatever world that may be; reality or vat. Since I’m able to experience, my relation to whatever world I may be in is what matters rather than knowing what lies outside my ability to know. Warrant from these propositions is drawn from the functional role between myself and my surroundings, even if fictive. That role is simply coming to know how to properly interact within an environment.

Therefore, regarding reality, brains, and vats, warrant hinges on justified beliefs, beliefs entail to action, and justification can only ever be vindicated; meaning that there is a payoff when acting one way versus another.

In other words, is what I’m thinking about things the way those things seem to be, because it actually matters.

For all such category of beliefs for which there can be no answer through reasoning or evidence, their import is exactly tied to the fact that they are not truth-bearing propositions. There may actually be a case for reality, vats, deity, other minds and so on, but they have literally no meaning to our human existence except the meaning we ascribe to them.

That’s for the very fact that we can’t know if they actually matter at all.

Just a thought.

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On Presuppositionalism …

I have as of late been posting about one topic which is both a counter to Atheistic criticisms of just belief in God and that defeats the Presuppositionalist complaint of needing a basis for all beliefs, or that all beliefs must be justified through reason or reasons to assert.

I am unconcerned with the Atheist’s criticisms because I agree with them, and generally they agree with how I do in fact justify my beliefs about God.

The Presuppositionalist is a spurious creature however. Their argumentation platform is actually more related to “Foundationalism” than to anything Van Til proposed. Their idea is that a belief must ultimately​ be traced back to a special kind of belief that must also be justified but cannot be justified by other beliefs. This sort, they call “Properly Basic”, or “Cornerstone Propositions”.

The idea is that in order to say justfication hinges on reliable methods, for example, there must be a properly basic belief that “the future resembles the past” or “there is general order to change over time, uniformity, regularity, order” and so on. The problem lies in the fact that if we merely justify these beliefs through presuming or assuming these are in fact the case, then the “foundation” is not truth. It follows then that it is literally meaningless as a preliminary for justifying other, non basic beliefs such as the initial belief that justification hinges on reliable methods; which pragmatically and justly affirms that belief time and again. The common complaint that Science isn’t the basis of Science or that it doesn’t justify itself using itself is moribund. The evident, obvious fact that it works not only vindicates Science and its methods and philosophies, it is justified because by “true” we can only mean “it works” and in a particular way which correlates to the subject of the “work”; ie. a demonstration that a proposition is describing a real state of affairs.

It suffices that Foundationalism isn’t a very interesting theory of human knowledge in Epistemology and is generally​ easy to defeat, as I initially attempted above.

However, we can indeed agree for the sake of argument that there must be a foundational belief outside of rational criticism because it is justified aside from other beliefs. We can also take up the charge that all beliefs must be justified. This is where I engage “entitlement” in the various forms given by Dretske, Wright, Burge, and Peacocke.

Entitlements are beliefs that are warranted because they are apparent and obvious, compelling, in terms the Foundationalist describe properly basic beliefs. However, we don’t presume these things or assume these things are true. We consently hold to the Foundationalist change that there are justified beliefs for which reason and evidence are not required. So where Foundationalism yields to self-refutation (no rational person would say supposition is justification, or that assuming is either), entitlements purport to be beliefs which are obviously true, and unlike Foundationalism again, defeasible.

The Atheist may worry that we can’t or shouldn’t say any belief is warranted without reason or evidence, but then several assurances follow. First, that “God” or any other metaphysical proposition cannot be an entitlement by definition. Second, that a volume, a volley, a landslide of examples of warranted beliefs which are properly basic do exist. Third and last is that the Skeptic is going to be more inclined to want some other basis of their Epistemology than beginning with presumption and assumption, and entitlements provide just that.

And for interesting trivia, notice those in the list of Anti-Foundationalists:

Roy Bhaskar
Jacques Derrida
John Dewey
Stanley Fish
Michel Foucault
G.W.F. Hegel
William James
Friedrich Nietzsche
Charles Sanders Peirce
Richard Rorty
Wilfrid Sellars
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Each in their own way defeat this idea of the need of foundations, be it Derrida making the case that beliefs are tied to language more than reality, or Peirce describing a closure principle of beliefs much like the web of meaning created by the words in a dictionary, though in the broadest sense all beliefs entail other beliefs cleanly, semiotically without any other problems like foundations.

In the end, the Presuppositionalist is claiming we presuppose some beliefs, but what they imply is that we only merely assume they are true and since assumptions create assess, as the saying goes, “God” (whatever the hell that term means!) ought to be the foundation for all knowledge claims. But that just carries assumption into credulity and desire and definition. In contrast, Entitlements are neither presumed true nor assumed true. They are asserted true and find warrant in their obviousness as being the case and for the fact that the only sort of reasoning which can be done about them is to justify doubting they are true; which of course no one can do, especially since the Entitleist can adopt all the initial positions of the Presuppositionalist yet not contradict itself in the end.

No, Presuppositionalist, I don’t presume anything in any of my beliefs; they are all justified beliefs that are either so, obviously, or not so obviously which then requires me to otherwise argue their justification.

Just a thought.

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