Sunday, May 27, 2018

Edward Feser on Ayn Rand

A couple of months ago a reader of my blog wrote to me privately and asked me to comment on a January 2014 blog posting of one Edward Feser titled Does existence exist? In this entry I’m finally getting around to posting some reactions to it.

Feser headlines his blog, simply called Edward Feser, with several bits of praise, all of it I’m sure very true, such as “One of the best contemporary writers on philosophy” (National Review) and “Feser… has the rare and enviable gift of making philosophical argument compulsively readable” (Times Literary Supplement). It’s not clear where in these publications one can find such laudations. But given these accolades, one would suppose that his efforts to interact with Rand’s axiom of existence might unearth startling and profound truths missed by the average armchair philosopher.

Beyond this article, I’ve never read anything of Feser’s (not that I remember anyhow), so without studying more of his work (it will have to get in line), I will take his profile for its word when it says that he “write[s]… from a traditional Roman Catholic perspective.”
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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Existence and Perception

Fundamental principles are the most critical part of philosophy to get right since all inferences, deductions and applications of its principles depend on their truth, their defensibility, and their suitability as fundamentals. Unfortunately it is philosophy’s fundamentals that are often the most misunderstood or even the least developed, either because they have not been securely identified, their truth is taken for granted and therefore deemed unworthy of deeper attention, or they have been disfigured through filters foreign to that philosophy.

I suspect that one reason why Objectivism’s fundamentals are so frequently and persistently misconstrued, is the very fact that Objectivism actually has clearly stated fundamentals, affirmed in terms of conceptually irreducible primaries, while other philosophies typically have at best vague handling of fundamentals and essentially zero regard for conceptual irreducibility. For example, consider the question: What is the fundamental starting point of post-modernism? Or Dialectical Materialism? Or Existentialism? Or Hinduism? Or Christianity? Or Scientology? Etc. Are they truly fundamental, or do they take certain unstated premises for granted? Do their stated foundations consist in identifying general facts that are directly available to any thinker, or do they rest in authoritarian pronouncements, secret canons, or elements of stories passed down by prior generations? 
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Monday, March 26, 2018

Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Thirteen

Again we now come to another anniversary of this blog’s inception, marking a full 13 years since its inaugural post in March 2005. While I’d think by now I’d have become accustomed to the increasing rapidity with which the days, months, years and hours of my life pass, I’m still amazed at where all my time goes. For time is life, and life is all.
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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Does Following the Evidence Lead One Over a Cliff?

Over on Triablogue, apologist Steve Hays has posted a blog entitled Am I a presuppositionalist? In this entry, Hays runs through a number of topics pertaining to the distinctions between presuppositionalism and evidentialism, both schools of Christian apologetics. His post is a reply to a description of evidentialism given by fellow apologists Tim and Lydia McGrew.

There’s a lot to consider in Hays’ post, and I have been tempted to give it a more thorough treatment, but I decided to keep today’s post relatively short as I want only to interact with a statement Hays makes towards the end of his post, where he fits in his predictable jab against atheism.
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Monday, January 01, 2018

Is the Christian God a "Necessary Being"?

Recently Steve Hays over at Triablogue posted a blog entry titled Who Made God?. This entry offers some instructive opportunities for engaging the kind of thinking many believers indulge in, so I have decided to comment on it.

Hays begins with the following provocative statement:
Some atheists think they can dismiss cosmological arguments by simply asking, "Who made God?"
Given the tone Hays uses here (“you’ll never get away with it, you meddling atheists!”), I get the impression that he believes the question “who made God?” is an inappropriate reaction to the cosmological argument. However, it seems to be a perfectly valid response to an argument which insists that everything was made by a “who” in the first place. If someone wants to validate his belief in invisible magic beings by asking “who made the universe?” why would it be wrong to suppose that, if a person, specifically a consciousness, must have created the universe and everything in it, a person, specifically a consciousness, must have created the person who created the universe?
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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"What would convince you?"

Often Christians seeking to defend their religious views will ask non-believers what they would accept as convincing evidence that their god-beliefs are true. This is a common baiting tactic deployed in an effort to expose some vulnerability, either personal or philosophical, or to corner them into making some damning concession.

For example, in their radio discussion, Greg Bahnsen asked George H. Smith, author of Atheism: The Case Against God, what he would consider convincing evidence that the Christian god is real. In response to this question, Smith quipped something to the effect that a “giant hand” reaching down from the sky and grabbing him by the scruff of the neck would probably get his attention. Smith states, “that would get me thinking.” (Find the audio recording here; a transcript is available here.)
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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

“Where did morality come from?”

I often find theistic apologists asking this question to non-theists. While some individuals may be genuinely interested in finding an answer to this question, apologists tend to pose it in an effort to stump people who do not hold that morality is sourced in a supernatural consciousness which issues commands and demands obedience. Sadly, this “Gotcha!” tactic is all too often successful as a sparring device, as the kinds of responses many non-believers give to this question often leave the unmistakable impression that either they had not considered the question before, or that they had considered it but never came to any satisfying answers.

Of course, theists gravitate to questions of this sort because in the final analysis, their theistic worldview depends on having no answers. What this means is that believers are hoping for responses that essentially reduce to “Gee, I donno!” revealing a gap of knowledge in which the believer’s inflatable god can be made to fit quite comfortably. As such, the purpose of this question is not to probe an important philosophical area of inquiry, but to corner thinkers into surrendering their minds to a primitive belief system.
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