Tuesday, August 15, 2006

An idealist philosopher

This is the page for Daniel Hutto, a philosopher who proposes to deal with the problems in the philosophy of mind by accepting Absolute Idealism, a position Lewis accepted on his way between atheism and Christainity.


Edward T. Babinski said...

Some modern day philosophers like Daniel Hutto continue to defend "absolute idealism" which just goes to show that philosophy is STILL not lacking a variety of answers to the Big questions. What a wax nose philosophy is when it comes to the Big questions. Maybe the trouble is assuming too much for the explanatory properties of words alone, words separated from painstaking experiments that take lifetimes to complete, words that one can bend and reshape with other words just to make it seem one has "solved" a problem when even a coherent internally consistent answer is not necessarily THE "solution" but merely "a" solution? Speaking of such things, neither has anyone been able to disprove Leibnitz's hypothesis that the physical brain and the "spiritual" mind run completely parallel to one another in different worlds without even connecting, yet they remain parallel due to a "pre-established harmony."

There's a new book about Bishop Berkeley, the British philosopher who believed that literally everything existed as an idea in the mind of God: The Other Bishop Berkeley: An Exercise in Re-enchantment Fordham University Press (October 15, 2006) by Costica Bradatan. The author discusses the side of Berkeley who read and wrote alchemical books, designed utopian projects, and searched for "Happy Islands" and the "Earthly Paradise." Berkeley's new attitude toward the material world echoed the dualistic theology of the Cathars. Berkeley's thinking was rooted in Platonic, mystical, and sometimes esoteric traditions, and he saw philosophy as, above all, a kind of salvation, to be practiced as a way of life. Bradatan uncovers is a much richer, true-to-life Berkeley, a more profound and spectacular thinker.

This topic also reminds me of the cover story on the latest issue of New Scientist, "You Are Made of Space-Time," which begins:

"Physical particles may seem very different from the space-time they inhabit, but what if the two are one and the same thing? New Scientist investigates. LEE SMOLIN is no magician, yet he and his colleagues have pulled off one of the greatest tricks imaginable. Starting from nothing more than Einstein's general theory of relativity, they have conjured up the universe. Everything from the fabric of space to the matter that makes up wands and rabbits emerges as if out of an empty hat. It is an impressive feat. Not only does it tell us about the origins of space and matter, it might help us understand where the laws of the universe come from. Not surprisingly, Smolin, who is a theoretical physicist at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, is very excited. "I've been jumping up and down about these ideas," he says. This promising approach to understanding the cosmos is based on a collection of theories called loop quantum gravity, an attempt to merge general relativity and quantum mechanics into a single consistent theory...END OF EXCERPT

Smolin is an atheist (who also believes that there are untold numbers of cosmoses and that cosmoses appear to exist simply to produce black holes that help lead to the production of future cosmoses that produce more blach holes, et al) however, what if he's right that at the bottom of everything is nothing? That would not halt theistic philosophers since they can STILL ponder, "Where did the nothingness come from?" (Instead of the question theistic philosophers now asked, "Why is there something rather than nothing?") And so the dance of philosophy goes on, atheist versus theist.

That's the cool thing about philosophy, its questions never end, and the proponents of each side can always find a way back to "giving it to the other guy." I mean if you get down to the super tiny levels of the cosmos that we have no direct experience of, that even physicists have no provable ideas about, what exactly is at the "bottom" of it all? "Nothing?" But it's still a "nothing" that gave birth to "something" (that will one day go back to being "nothing," etc.) So it's not purely "nothing." And what might lay beneath this "nothing-that-sometimes-gives-birth-to-something-that-might-one-day-all-go-back-to-being-nothing?" What is "it?"

I'm not saying I agree with idealism and that "God's ideas" must lay at "bottom," I'm saying I don't know. Whatever "really" is there appears hidden, which raises questions of "divine hiddenness." See Divine Hiddenness: New Essays, eds., Daniel Howard-Snyder, Paul Moser

Though I suspect there is plenty we DO know about the cosmos as we see it and experience it on our level that raises plenty of unanswered questions for us to ponder. Such as, "Is this the ideal moment in time for humans to have been created/evolved?" *smile* And what about this?

JD Walters said...


Here we go again with the torrent of Babinski sources. For a guy who thinks philosophy is a 'wax nose' when it comes to answering the 'Big Questions', he sure philosophizes an awful lot and keeps up with the cutting edge. I think it's just disingenuous. Ed is obviously very interested in philosophy, though mostly just to try to pull everyone down into his 'don't worry be happy' agnosticism.