Saturday, April 11, 2009

A quote from Richard Vitzthum

A redated post.

"Materialism should no longer wink at such nonsense but insist that the foundations of all human thought and feeling are grossly irrational." - Richard Vitzthum, Materialism: An Afiirmative History and Definition.

Talk about handing me my case on a plate.
HT: Triablogue

15 comments:

JD Walters said...

Whoa, that's a bit intense. Are you sure it wasn't pulled out of context? I can't quite believe that Vitzhum actually affirms a statement like that. Doesn't he know it's self-contradicting?

Victor Reppert said...

It probably was taken out of context.

Victor Reppert said...

Still, it makes my point nicely.

J. Clark said...

It's like the Calvinist who says, "we can do no good, none at all." and in reply, "well then, I guess I don't have to listen to you, you've got nothing good to say."

Edward T. Babinski said...

Since I can't explain how or why my next typed words came to be formulated inside my head (or even how my mind moves my fingers), I tend to doubt that anyone here knows for certain what the set of of all things that are "less than rational" (irrational) is all about either, or, whether or not things that are irrational might also lie along a spectrum stretching from "irrational to rational."

Anonymous said...

Ed, don't you think that doubt of that degree is tantamount to a surrender of rationality? If you "can't explain how or why my next typed words came to be formulated inside your head, or even how your mind moves your fingers", I dare say you've removed yourself from even the pretense of rational discourse. Admittedly, you could argue that all people are removed from such discourse by what you perceive. But, to put it another way, 'You first!'

If modern atheism or anti-theism is reduced to a series of groundless hunches, let's bury the movement and get on with the discourse between the various theists and quasi-theists that remains.

Anonymous said...

Why think I pulled it out of context? The "foundation" is "matter" and he calls it "irrational." he should have called it non-rational; but then, he's a historian and not a philosopher.

"It's like the Calvinist who says, "we can do no good, none at all."

You mean what the apostle Paul says in Romans 3? Or when Jesus says, "Why do you call me good, don't you know that only God is good?" Anyway, Calvinists can allow that people do good in a limited sense.

"and in reply, "well then, I guess I don't have to listen to you, you've got nothing good to say."

Thanks, now I have a textbook example of the fallacy of equivocation to use as an illustration that people actually commit such blunders in real life.

Paul

Anonymous said...

here's another quote from the book:

"A revised and modernized materialism concludes from all this that human thought and feeling is the product of a series of unthinking and unfeeling processes originated in the big bang."

This quote is taken from the same two pages as the other one...to gove some more "context."

paul

Anonymous said...

Here's some more "context"

"Human thought and feeling is the most complex, versatile, adaptive, sensitive, perceptive, creative, purposeful, and voluntaristic product of terrestrial evolution and perhaps cosmic evolution as a whole... It creates all the value and meaning that humans find inside or outside of themselves. The material order outside of human self-enclosure and self-definition is empty of human value and meaning, consisting as it does of an aimless interplay of natural process dictated by invariable physical laws. Its amoral indiscriminateness contrasts sharply with the human compulsion to discriminate and judge. This compulsion evolved from the billions of years of biological adaptation to earth's environment that transformed simple cells into multicelled animals.

Human thought and feeling is a material offshoot of this very indiscriminateness. It consists of neural events that individually are insensitive, unthinking, and unfeeling as all other basic chemical reactions but that collectively are capable of processing raw electromagnetic signals into emotional and intellectual information. Although the process is not yet well understood, it may consist of computation that mathematically measure incoming arrays of signals against synaptic weightings in the brain's neural networks...." - Richard C. Vitzthum's "Materialism: An Affirmative History And Definition," Prometheus Books, 1995, pp. 230-232

-Paul

Anonymous said...

More context:

Richard C. Vitzthum's "Materialism: An Affirmative History And Definition," Prometheus Books, 1995, pp. 230-232

"The essential component of the material order is a substance whose nature even in our cosmos is not yet and may never be fully known or understood... Terrestrial life is an accidental realization of one of a large, perhaps infinite number of different kinds of being possible to material substance. The laws of nature at the macrophysical level assert themselves unconsciously, indiscriminately, and invariably...
[a]t the microphisical level... they embody laws of probability that are equally implacable and nonhuman in their total effect... Organic life evolved during a period of two to three billion years from accidental circumstances on the surface of the earth, itself a product of the evolution of the cosmos... The key event in organic evolution was the random combination of inorganic matter into units capable of self-reproduction... Biological death, or the breakdown of organisms into their chemical components, is total and irreversible. Nothing of the organism's identity survives.

Human thought and feeling is the most complex, versatile, adaptive, sensitive, perceptive, creative, purposeful, and voluntaristic product
of terrestrial evolution and perhaps cosmic evolution as a whole... It creates all the value and meaning that humans find inside or outside
of themselves. The material order outside of human self-enclosure and self-definition is empty of human value and meaning, consisting as it does of an aimless interplay of natural process dictated by invariable physical laws. Its amoral indiscriminateness contrasts sharply with the human compulsion to discriminate and judge. This compulsion evolved from the billions of years of biological adaptation to earth's environment that transformed simple cells into multicelled animals.

Human thought and feeling is a material offshoot of this very indiscriminateness. It consists of neural events that individually are insensitive, unthinking, and unfeeling as all other basic chemical reactions but that collectively are capable of processing raw electromagnetic signals into emotional and intellectual information. Although the process is not yet well understood, it may consist of computation that mathematically measure incoming arrays of signals against synaptic weightings in the brain's neural networks....

The wide variety of human response to the material reality humans
find themselves a part of is less interesting than reality itself. Powerful but contradictory and often volatile human impulses-- for example, to cooperate, to include others in or to exclude others from social structure, or to love or to hate-- have produced radically different yet more or less workable systems of religious, ethical, political, and social value."

Clayton said...

I don't see that it's self-contradicting to assert that the great scientific minds came from parents whose minds were remarkably unimpressive. I guess I'd want to know what the author means by "foundations", but if he means causes there's nothing self-contradicting in that statement. There's nothing self-contradicting in that statement if he doesn't mean causes but means something like supervenience base. So, what's the bad reading of that?

Victor Reppert said...

Well, even if it was pulled out of context, it is, at best, a Freudian slip admitting what takes pages of argumentation on my part to argue for.

I don't mind it at all when materialists make my case for me.

Paul Manata said...

Victor, you might also like the ransack David Livingstone Smith's book _The Most Dangerous Animal_ as he hands you your case on a platter time and time again in that book.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Replace 'grossly irrational' with 'arational' and the final clause is true.

Anonymous said...

Nah, it's obviously false. Unless someone adds 'and then something basically magical and non-understandable occurs', or materialism is now dabbling in the fideistic. ;)