Friday, April 29, 2011

Angus Menuge develops Puddleglum's argument a different way

A redated post.

In Bassham and Walls ed. The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy (Open Court, 2005), Angus Menuge finds an implicit argument against materialism that is not pragmatic in nature. In "Why Eustace Almost Deserved His Name: Lewis's Critique of Modern Secularism" he writes:

The argument is left rather implicit, but Lewis is clearly attacking the intelligibility of the debunkers' claim that our ideas of "higher" things can derive from "lower" sources. How can the idea of something great derive from something lacking that greatness? Could the idea of eternity arise from the materialist's temporal world? Could the ideas of infinity and perfection derive from the finite, imperfect world of the secularist? Could the idea of a necessary being like God derive from the secularist's contingent universe? There is a good case to be made that material causes do not account for the content of those ideas. pp. 202-203.

This is reminiscent of an argument found in Descartes' Meditations.

See also this discussion.

4 comments:

Jason said...

On the other had, at the time of the main debates about God as a necessary being, the 'secularists' did _NOT_ consider the universe to be contingent (in the sense of existing not-necessarily). That's a relatively new thing. The option before 20th century Bang theory, was always (or almost always) between Independent Fact characteristics: how many IFs there were (or could be), whether one or more systems existed, whether the IF was actively intentional or not, etc. It was rarely, if ever, about an IF simply springing into existence from nothing, as that would have been an immediately incoherent proposition.

I fully expect 'secularism' to abandon contingent naturalism sooner or later, based on conceptual problems with the proposition; and when that happens, theists had better not be leaning too hard on Cosmological Arguments (especially in their popularly kalam-flavored forms.)

Anonymous said...

I think Jason is mistaken. Hume discusses the idea that the world as a whole exists necessarily in his dialogues.

finney said...

I don't like this argument. We can form the conception of a Star Wars universe where gravity may be turned off, even though we live in a universe where gravity is always on. We can conceive of a circle, even though circles don't exist in the actual world.

Anonymous said...

I fully expect 'secularism' to abandon contingent naturalism sooner or later, based on conceptual problems with the proposition; and when that happens, theists had better not be leaning too hard on Cosmological Arguments (especially in their popularly kalam-flavored forms.)

They wouldn't need to be leaning on them anymore at that point, since such an abandonment would mean a theistic victory on that front.