Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

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Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#1

Post by smiley » Sat May 22, 2010 4:46 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontological_argument

It basically goes like this:

1. It is possible that a maximally excellent being exists
2. Therefore, a maximally excellent being exists in a possible world
3. If a maximally excellent being exists in a possible world, then it exists in all possible worlds.
4. If ta maximally excellent being exists in every possible world, then it exists in reality.
5. Therefore, a maximally excellent being exists.

Most philosophers, supposedly, think that p2-p5 are uncontroversial.

Now, after doing some research on Axiom S5, I think I understand why possible existence implies actual existence.

However, why exactly, is this argument exclusive to proving the existence of God? It seems to be that it can be used to justify the existence of any kind of random idea that comes into one's head, if it can be shown that its existence is not logically impossible (the "invisible pink unicorn" would be one example). The logic behind it seems fine, but its implications seem absurd. Or perhaps I'm misinterpreting something. Does anyone mind making sense out of this for me?

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#2

Post by Proinsias » Sat May 22, 2010 6:57 pm

The jump, massive leap, from point one to two makes all the following redundant for me.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#3

Post by Jac3510 » Sat May 22, 2010 7:40 pm

The idea that the ontological argument can be used to justify anything's existence doesn't hold water due to the nature of a "maximally excellent being." For example, people will argue that this argument proves a perfect island must exist, but that argument fails, because no island can be perfect--or, at least, perfectly perfect. To be perfectly perfect (maximally perfect) would mean to have no imperfections, and islands (or unicorns or purpose spaghetti monsters or whatever) are at least as imperfect as they exist temporally in a temporal world (that is, they do not have all of their existence within themselves, but are always losing existence to the past and realizing potential existence in the future).

Really, the ontological argument is very interesting because it is one of those things that everyone looks at and says, "That just doesn't seem like it works," but no one can actually find a fault with it. Hume and Kant tried to kill it by arguing that existence isn't part of any concept, and so you can't derive existence from any given concept, no matter how perfect it is. I think that objection misses the real heart of the argument, because the ontological argument, in any form, posits that an existing thing is greater than a non-existing thing (that is, that existence is a perfection). That is where the real debate ought to be, in my opinion. I certainly seems like an existing thing is greater (or more perfect) than a non-existing thing, you sort of run the risk of begging the question with that statement, because if existence is a perfection, then existence does add to a concept, which is the objection under discussion. :econfused:

In any case, Plantinga's contribution of possible world language has been a great help to philosophy, Christian and otherwise, but I don't know that it really is the best way to go here. I'm not too fond of the OA for practical reasons (put simply, even if you defend it successfully, people just aren't convinced by it). If I am going to employ it, I like Descarte's much better. He argued that we have an idea of perfection present in our mind, but such an idea can't have come from this world, since there is nothing perfect in this world from which we could draw the idea. What, then, explains the presence of the idea? If it is a mere extrapolation on our part that has no bearing in reality (i.e., that God does not exist), then, in fact, the word "perfect" is meaningless. We are using a word that we think has meaning when in fact it doesn't. But that seems absurd. I don't see any reason to think that perfection is a meaningless concept . . .

Of course, if you use that version of the argument, it is no longer a truly ontological argument, because it is asking a causal question (where did I get the idea?). Back, then, to a pure OA like Plantinga's, I confess that I can't find anything logically wrong with it, but I just wonder if it doesn't beg the question on whether or not existence is actually a perfection . . .
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#4

Post by Jac3510 » Sat May 22, 2010 7:54 pm

Proinsias wrote:The jump, massive leap, from point one to two makes all the following redundant for me.
How is there a massive leap from 1 to 2? It's very reasonable . . . what do you mean when you say that it is possible that a maximally perfect being exists? You are saying that you can imagine a world in which such a being exists . . . that's just another way of saying that a maximally perfect being exists in some possible world. Let's use a less contentious example to make the point.

Is it possible for unicorns to exist? Sure. It's logically possible, just not very probable, at least, in this world. But look at the statement, "It is possible for unicorns to exist." What does that statement mean? It means, "A world in which unicorns exist is logically possible." Whether or not that world is this world is another issue entirely. Thus, in asserting that it is possible for unicorns to exist, we are asserting that unicorns exist in some possible worlds. But just because they exist in some possible worlds doesn't mean they exist in any actual worlds, and thus, we don't have any reason to believe that they actually exist.

On the other hand, it is possible for married bachelors to exist? No. It is logically impossible. But look at the statement, "It is impossible for married bachelors to exist." What does that statement mean? It means, "A world in which married bachelors exist is logically impossible." Thus, that world cannot be our world, and thus, when we assert that married bachelors cannot exist, we are asserting that there are no possible worlds in which married bachelors exist.

In short, there is absolutely no jump from the first and second statement, and actually, the second statement is simply a clearer restatement of what we actually mean by the first.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#5

Post by Proinsias » Sun May 23, 2010 2:35 pm

Is it possible for unicorns to exist? Sure.
I don't see why you are sure about this. Why are you sure it is possible for unicorns to exist in a possible world? Is there no chance that the existence of unicorns is simply impossible regardless of your ability to conceive of one.
On the other hand, it is possible for married bachelors to exist? No
3 or 4 years at university and a wife makes one a walking logical impossibility then. A bachelor of science who is married is not unheard of.

I realise it is stretching the definitions a little but one who does not recognise gay marriage may view two married gay men as simply two batchelors. Or my friend who was married at the age of fourteen in a pagan ceremony I would consider a batchelor as he has been single for a long time now, but in some sense he is also married.

Is it possible for an illogical world to exist?

Gasking's proof also touches on some of the ideas about existence you alluded to in your first post:

1. The creation of the world is the most marvelous achievement imaginable.
2. The merit of an achievement is the product of (a) its intrinsic quality, and (b) the ability of its creator.
3. The greater the disability (or handicap) of the creator, the more impressive the achievement.
4. The most formidable handicap for a creator would be non-existence.
5. Therefore if we suppose that the universe is the product of an existent creator we can conceive a greater being — namely, one who created everything while not existing.
6. Therefore God does not exist.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#6

Post by Jac3510 » Mon May 24, 2010 6:34 pm

Proinsias wrote:
Is it possible for unicorns to exist? Sure.
I don't see why you are sure about this. Why are you sure it is possible for unicorns to exist in a possible world? Is there no chance that the existence of unicorns is simply impossible regardless of your ability to conceive of one.
By definition. If something is logically possible, then it is actually possible. That is what we mean when we talk about a possible world. There is no possible world in which two and two equal five. There is a possible world in which I don't exist. That doesn't mean that any other world's actually exist or that other worlds in which I don't exist actually exist. Possible worlds themselves are subject to the same language; are other worlds possible? Unless there is something self-contradictory in the notion of "possible world," the answer is yes. Do possible worlds exist? That's another question entirely.

Is there anything inherently self-contradictory in the notion of a unicorn? No. Therefore, there are possible worlds in which unicorns exist. That does NOT mean that there are worlds in which unicorns exist. To make mistake in reading it that way is to fundamentally misunderstand the argument.
On the other hand, it is possible for married bachelors to exist? No
3 or 4 years at university and a wife makes one a walking logical impossibility then. A bachelor of science who is married is not unheard of.

I realise it is stretching the definitions a little but one who does not recognise gay marriage may view two married gay men as simply two batchelors. Or my friend who was married at the age of fourteen in a pagan ceremony I would consider a batchelor as he has been single for a long time now, but in some sense he is also married.

Yes, that is stretching the definition a bit. Would you prefer me to speak of four sided trianges? You are just arguing with the example. The point remains the same.
Is it possible for an illogical world to exist?
No. Now, if you believe four sided triangles, married unmarried people, virgins who have sex [actual--don't make me get too graphic in description] every weekend, bright darkness, and experienced neophytes to exist--or any other such silly notion; like the idea that A can not be A in the same time, place, and way--then you are denying the law of non-contradiction, and no proof of any kind on any subject will have any value to you whatsoever. If, though, you want to stick with the rational world, then no, illogical worlds are not possible.
Gasking's proof also touches on some of the ideas about existence you alluded to in your first post:

1. The creation of the world is the most marvelous achievement imaginable.
2. The merit of an achievement is the product of (a) its intrinsic quality, and (b) the ability of its creator.
3. The greater the disability (or handicap) of the creator, the more impressive the achievement.
4. The most formidable handicap for a creator would be non-existence.
5. Therefore if we suppose that the universe is the product of an existent creator we can conceive a greater being — namely, one who created everything while not existing.
6. Therefore God does not exist.
Lots of things wrong with this "proof"

(1) is unsound in that it is simply false. There is no reason to believe it is true. Further, it introduces unnecessary catagories that it ends up confusing later with the word "imaginable," since this speaks of knowledge, whereas a proper ontological speaks nothing of knowledge. We are talking about an ontological, not epistemological, argument.
(2) is also unsound. It is questionable whether or not anything has intrinsic quality, and it is very questionable whether or not merit has any basis on the ability of the person doing the action.
(3) introduces a relative term in "impressive." To whom? By what standards? By whose standards? If we look at things relative only to themselves, then you have a huge problem with the argument, because it can't apply to God at all . . . thus
(4) is false for multiple reasons. First, it is self-contradictory. Something that doesn't exist can't be said to do anything. Creators, by definition, create. Therefore, it is impossible to speak of a creator as non-existent. Second, it is impossible to attribute anything to a thing that doesn't exist, including handicaps.
(5) is also false for multiple reasons. In the first place, existence or non-existence doesn't change the greatness of a thing. This statement proves to much, for the moment you adopt it as true, you automatically concede the main argument of the ontological argument and are forced to admit God's existence. The reason is simple: if existence and non-existence add to a concept, making it more or less great, then the main premise of the ontological argument is true, and therefore, so is its conclusions. As it stands, my objection to the ontological argument is exactly this: that existence and nonexistence do not add to a concept. Thus, you "proof" for the non-existence of God falls in at least exactly the same way as the classical ontological argument does. Kant is somewhere smiling right now. He's thwarted yet another silly attempt at philosophy.

Anyway, in the second place, (5) is illogical for the same reason (4) is. Something that doesn't exist cannot do anything. Thus, it is logically absurd to speak of non-existing creators creating. You may as well be speaking of four sided triangles.

Therefore, (6) fails to follow from your first five statements. Beyond all that, it is terribly constructed . . . mixing in unnecessary terms and categories. The best part is, like the problem of evil, to argue it is to prove God exists, for just as atheists must recognize the existence of evil to use it to argue against God, but the existence of evil presupposes and logically requires His exists, in just the same way, your argument here assumes that existence adds to the greatness of a concept, and in so doing admits the ontological argument does, in fact, prove Him to exist. So, bravo! You've proven He does exist . . . at least, by your standards of argument. Not by mine, but I do consider myself a bit more logically rigorous . . .

By the way, you're moving the goal posts. First, you said you didn't like the argument because there was a leap between (1) and (2). I explained why you were mistaken there. Now you have moved off in other directions, some of them rather silly to boot (arguing against examples, stretching definitions, challenging the law of non-contradiction). Are your objections real ones that you would actually like to discuss, or are you merely throwing up smoke-screens, beacuse while the breeze that rids us of that annoying smoke is nice, that kind of discussion is rather boring, as I'm sure you'd agree.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#7

Post by Proinsias » Sun May 30, 2010 2:56 pm

Jac3510 wrote:By the way, you're moving the goal posts. First, you said you didn't like the argument because there was a leap between (1) and (2). I explained why you were mistaken there. Now you have moved off in other directions, some of them rather silly to boot (arguing against examples, stretching definitions, challenging the law of non-contradiction). Are your objections real ones that you would actually like to discuss, or are you merely throwing up smoke-screens, beacuse while the breeze that rids us of that annoying smoke is nice, that kind of discussion is rather boring, as I'm sure you'd agree.
Apologies Jac, I'm rather new to this philosophy business. On reflection, and thanks to your post, I retract my first post. Although as you say, something just doesn't seem very satisfying with the ontological proof. I'll think on it a little more.
If, though, you want to stick with the rational world, then no, illogical worlds are not possible.
That may be part of the issue. If one sticks with logic then what is illogical is impossible. When we are talking of possible worlds I find it difficult to believe that what is actually possible marries up exactly with what we declare to be possible. Worlds with unicorns may be impossible and worlds with 2+2=5 may be possible, I really don't know.

Thanks for the deconstruction of Gasking's proof. I wasn't posting it in some attempt to destroy the ontological argument but more as your talk of existence reminded me of it. If you wouldn't mind I'd like to pm that portion of your answer to a friend who was rather taken with it a year or so ago when I alerted him to it.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#8

Post by Jac3510 » Sun May 30, 2010 5:52 pm

No apologies necessary, Pro. The ontological argument is silly, in my opinion, for a lot of the reasons we are experiencing here. I put a lot of stock in philosophy, seeing it, as I do, as the proper method to inquire into the nature of things. With that said, some philosophy, as we all know, is too much of an attempt to be cute. The OA is a well intentioned version of that. That means, unfortunately, that discussions that focus on it tend to get a little . . . silly.

As far as my answer to Gasking, feel free to give it to whomever you like.

I would like to comment, though, on this in particular:
When we are talking of possible worlds I find it difficult to believe that what is actually possible marries up exactly with what we declare to be possible. Worlds with unicorns may be impossible and worlds with 2+2=5 may be possible, I really don't know.
I'd challenge you on the term "actually possible." The word "actually" adds a lot of room for people to start reading in their own ideas. It lets us say, "Well, in my worldview, that can't really happen, because it would violate certain things that I believe must be true, so therefore, while this idea may not be self-contradictory in any way, I refuse to acknowledge its possibility." That's not a very strong position, because really it just becomes good old fashioned circular reasoning. Things are actually possible if they line up with your worldview; your worldview encompasses that which you think is possible.

When speaking of the possibility for things to exist, we have to make some important distinctions--possible and probable being two very important ones. Something must be possible to be probable. But plenty of possible things are not probable and are, in fact, improbable. Unicorns are just such an example. There is nothing inherently self-contradictory about the notion, and therefore, they are at least possible. But since they presume that magic is a real part of our world (among other difficulties), it is highly improbable that they exist in this world. On the other hand, we can imagine a world in which magic exists, and so, unicorns are possible there. Again, it may be that in such a world, unicorns don't exist their either. Therefore, we can't even say that unicorns are probable in magical worlds. But the least we can say is that unicorns are possible in some possible worlds.

Finally, note that when we speak of possible worlds, we aren't positing that any of these worlds actually do exist. Those would be actual worlds, and to the best of our knowledge, there is only one of those: ours. Possible worlds language is simply a tool that we can employ to discuss the nature of things and find out whether or not things are or are not, might be or might not be, can be or can't be, should be or should not be, etc.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#9

Post by Proinsias » Sun May 30, 2010 6:24 pm

I'd challenge you on the term "actually possible." The word "actually" adds a lot of room for people to start reading in their own ideas. It lets us say, "Well, in my worldview, that can't really happen, because it would violate certain things that I believe must be true, so therefore, while this idea may not be self-contradictory in any way, I refuse to acknowledge its possibility." That's not a very strong position
Saying that something is possible as it does not refute any of your world views, or provide a contradiction in your wolrdviews, is a strong, but not solid, position.

It seems you've added what you believe to be true, in the form of logic.
I put a lot of stock in philosophy, seeing it, as I do, as the proper method to inquire into the nature of things.
It's wrestling with meditation for me, I like to imagine prayer is quite similar.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#10

Post by Jac3510 » Mon May 31, 2010 9:38 am

Proinsias wrote:Saying that something is possible as it does not refute any of your world views, or provide a contradiction in your wolrdviews, is a strong, but not solid, position.
I'm not sure I understand what you mean here. Could you clarify?
It seems you've added what you believe to be true, in the form of logic.
I put a lot of stock in philosophy, seeing it, as I do, as the proper method to inquire into the nature of things.
It's wrestling with meditation for me, I like to imagine prayer is quite similar.
Don't confuse logic with philosophy. William of Champaeux and Peter Abailard both did, and it got them into hot water, which, unfortunately, burned many a great minds for generations after them. If only he had headed Porphyry's warnings in his commentary on Aristotle's Categories, things might have been different: "At present, I shall refuse to say, concerning genera and species, whether they subsist or whether they are corporeal or incorporeal, and whether they are separated from the sensibles or placed in the sensibles and in accord with them. Questions of this sort are most exalted business and require very great diligence of inquiry." (As quoted from r. McKeon, ed., Selections from Medieval Philosophers, vol. I (New York: Scribner's, 1929), 91)).

Hard questions indeed, and questions that logic cannot answer. The reason is simple enough, once you understand what philosophy and logic actually are. Logic deals with the mode of thought. Philosophy deals with the nature of things. Certainly, you cannot do the latter without consulting the former; but you also cannot do philosophy without paying attention to any of the other sciences, such as lingusitics, history, or mathematics.

Feel free to pursue meditation as a means to understand the nature of things. It is a well trodden path that, in the end, leads to absolute skepticism about everything, as do all attempts at understanding the nature of things improperly. Just as the Greeks were not able to to science properly, confusing it, as they did, with philosophy, so mystics are not able to understand the world, and whichever rabbit hole they choose to follow, they all find themselves in the same place: a cloud of of unknowing, to borrow a phrase you may have heard. There is no shortage of this in any worldview. Obviously, the Eastern world has long explored it. Medieval theology had its turn. It finds its modern exponents in the views of men like Richard Baxter. Well meaning, all of them. And certainly, all of them have recognized the plain fact that reality--especially as God intended it--is to be experienced just as much as it is to be understood. It is, however, also a fact that experiencing reality does not necessarily lead to understanding it, however direct that experience may be. History, the laboratory of philosophy, has proven it time and again, for we find her long halls littered with the remains of such mystics--and almost all of them skeptics.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#11

Post by Canuckster1127 » Mon May 31, 2010 10:04 am

Interesting observation. It's been my experience and observation that Greek based philosophy descends into Skepticism, Cynicism and at the extremes to Nihilism far more readily and predictably than Mysticism, but I suppose other observations and the filters one brings to those observations are certainly possible.
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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#12

Post by Jac3510 » Mon May 31, 2010 2:49 pm

Canuckster1127 wrote:Interesting observation. It's been my experience and observation that Greek based philosophy descends into Skepticism, Cynicism and at the extremes to Nihilism far more readily and predictably than Mysticism, but I suppose other observations and the filters one brings to those observations are certainly possible.
Could you give me some examples of "Greek based philosophy" that have descended "into Skepticism, Cynicism and at the extremes to Nihilism"?
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#13

Post by Canuckster1127 » Mon May 31, 2010 2:57 pm

OK. But first, you made this claim.
History, the laboratory of philosophy, has proven it time and again, for we find her long halls littered with the remains of such mystics--and almost all of them skeptics.
What examples do you have and on what basis would can you make the claim that "almost all" mystics are skeptics?
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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#14

Post by Jac3510 » Mon May 31, 2010 7:31 pm

Sure thing. So as not to take us to far afield, I will give but one example, chosen because I think it powerfully demonstrates the point: Nicolaus Cusanus.

Let's give some background before we get there. By the end of the thirteenth century, Scholasticism was under attack. That century had been largely an answer to Averroes, who thought of himself as a true Aristotilean, and who argued that philosophy, left to itself, could disprove religious truth by proving two propositions: the eternality of the world and the mortality of the soul. He was answered thoroughly, but unfortunately, by too many in too many ways. If, then, the theologians could not settle on a philosophical answer to the philosophical objection, the next obvious answer was to discredit philosophy itself. Nicolas of Autrecourt is an excellent of example of this type of thinking (although it is tempting to discuss Gehrard Groot or several others here). I won't bother to explain his arguments here, but suffice it to say that, for him, nothing could be known of substances or accidents and therefore they should be rejected, and based on that, so also must the principle of causality--not only efficient, but also final. Of course, if this is true, then there can be no demonstration of God's existence of any kind, which was fine by Nicolas. For him, the statements "God exists" and "God does not exist" meant exactly the same thing.

Now, in fairness to our discussion, let me point out that Nicolas was not a mystic. He was, rather, a moralist, but the two positions are tied together this way: once one rejects philosophy as a means for ascribing meaning to things and existence, they are all that is left. For Nicolas, once philosophy was rejected, men would need only to turn to the religious and moral life where true happiness would be found. Granted, nothing could be really known--not even that God exists--but happiness was the point, not understanding.

But turning to the mystics proper, to work our way up to Nicolaus Cusanus, let's start by acknowledging a firmly held Scholastic proposition, namely, that God, in His essence, is unknowable. That is, we cannot know what God is, only what He is not. This position is both the beginning and end of Scholasticism and invites one to go beyond reason into the mystical. A German theologian named Eckhart Meister, however, took this proposition and applied it in a different way. Like Nicolas of Autrecourt, he hated philosophy and wanted to transcend it, but while Nicolas did it through moralism, Meister took the road of mysticism. For him, God is not only unknowable, but "the wilderness of the Godhead." That is, not only can we not know God, but even God Himself cannot know God, for the simple reason that, being unknowable, God cannot be the object of knowledge, even that of His own. Further, if God could know Himself, He would be limited not only in His nature, but in number, too, for that which is known and that which is not known is two. Therefore, if God is indeed a wilderness, we must move beyond even number. He is neither One nor Three. For Meister, the spiritual journey ends when one moves beyond the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all together, and reaches that silent wilderness of divinity. There, we cannot even make assertions about God of any kind. He may as well be nothing, so exalted is His supremecy.

Now, Meister was a mystic, but he was a theologian, not a philosopher. It took Nicolaus Cusanus to apply his principles to philosophy. The necessary result, like many before him and many after him, was absolute skepticism. Again, his goals were well intentioned. He only wanted to rid the Church of philosophy so that she could not be damaged by it. Further, he was hoping to heal the schisms that were developing in the Church as this man followed that theologian and that man that philosopher. Again, I will save you the details of his argument, but suffice it to say that he concluded that truth is impossible. The best man has is approximation. Further, not only is truth impossible, but knowledge of the existence of things is also impossible, for to judge something existing or not is to affirm or deny, which one cannot do. Taken to its "logical" conclusion, Nicolaus concluded, with Meister, that God Himself transcends even the law of non-contradiction and embodies all contradictions. He is, in short, unthinkable. Thus, he said, "I have learnt that the place wherein Thou are found unveiled is girt around with the coincidence of contradictories, and this is the wall of Paradise wherein Thou dost abide, the door whereof is guarded by the most proud spirit of Reason, and, unless he be vanquished, the way will not lie open." (Cusanus, The Vision of God, chap 9; trans. E. G. Salter (London, 1928) 43-44)). The result of denying both truth and judgment was that the universe itself became just as unintelligible as God Himself, which is exactly what Cusanus was after all along. The universe cannot be intelligible, for its purpose is to manifest a God who is Himself unintelligible.

I choose that example because it effectively ended medieval theology. The spirit of it was dead. Moralism and Mysticism, two siblings born from the same hatred of philosophy, both left their adherents as skeptics; the moralist because nothing could or needed to be known except how to live, the mystic because nothing could or needed to be known because of the utter unintelligibility of God. These are always the results. Sometimes, a particular mystic or moralist does not take his doctrine to its conclusion, but his students invariably do, because that is the nature of moralism and mysticism. But perhaps the last sentence went too far, for to talk about the nature of anything--much less moralism and mysticism--is to begin to do philosophy again. It would prove rather ironic, I think, if we had to turn to philosophy to understand the very systems that were created to destroy it.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#15

Post by Proinsias » Fri Jun 04, 2010 3:33 pm

Jac3510 wrote:
Proinsias wrote:Saying that something is possible as it does not refute any of your world views, or provide a contradiction in your wolrdviews, is a strong, but not solid, position.
I'm not sure I understand what you mean here. Could you clarify?
If you say that a world in which you do not exist is possible as you believe it to be possible, or a world in which 2+2=5 is not possible I presume you are saying so as you can construct a reasonable framework for one and not for the other. If you can construct a sound argument and framework showing one to be reasonable and other to be unreasonable you have a good case, wether this is actually the case is another matter. If logic deals with the mode of thought perhaps what is actually possible and what is not actually possible is not governed entirely by this mode of thought.
Jac3510 wrote: Hard questions indeed, and questions that logic cannot answer. The reason is simple enough, once you understand what philosophy and logic actually are. Logic deals with the mode of thought. Philosophy deals with the nature of things. Certainly, you cannot do the latter without consulting the former; but you also cannot do philosophy without paying attention to any of the other sciences, such as lingusitics, history, or mathematics.
Disciplines like Zen are also concerned with things like modes of though, but more so in mocking them than building on them. That you feel philosophy underpinned with logic whilst paying attention to things like mathematics, history and science is the proper method of inquiry is fine. Others would say stop your internal dialogue which merely overcomplicated things and completely distracts one from nature. Other dispute that there are 'things', or people to inquire into them.
Jac3510 wrote:Feel free to pursue meditation as a means to understand the nature of things. It is a well trodden path that, in the end, leads to absolute skepticism about everything, as do all attempts at understanding the nature of things improperly. Just as the Greeks were not able to to science properly, confusing it, as they did, with philosophy, so mystics are not able to understand the world, and whichever rabbit hole they choose to follow, they all find themselves in the same place: a cloud of of unknowing, to borrow a phrase you may have heard. There is no shortage of this in any worldview. Obviously, the Eastern world has long explored it. Medieval theology had its turn. It finds its modern exponents in the views of men like Richard Baxter. Well meaning, all of them. And certainly, all of them have recognized the plain fact that reality--especially as God intended it--is to be experienced just as much as it is to be understood. It is, however, also a fact that experiencing reality does not necessarily lead to understanding it, however direct that experience may be. History, the laboratory of philosophy, has proven it time and again, for we find her long halls littered with the remains of such mystics--and almost all of them skeptics.
Again you know what is and what is not proper, it's an opinion. If those mystics reject what you call proper as just people playing games, complicating things and trying to feel smart you won't listen to them as you know what is proper. I'm not sure almost all mystics are skeptics, they just don't put much stock in philosophy which from your pov may be akin to skepticism.

As Lao Tse said:

He who knows does not speak
he who speaks about it does not know it


In the midst of his greatest dialogue.

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