Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Carrier and the Robot Apocalypse

See here .

183 comments:

Heuristics said...

Well, I suppose at least its a simple matter to check in 10 years if it came to pass or not.

As a computer science engineer myself I see this kind of stuff constantly coming out of academia but it's very rarely actually used for anything. For the most part it's best to just ascribe it to hype made in order to secure future funding for researchers that want to continue playing with their robot. If this kind of stuff actually worked you would see toys that used the technology in your local toys r us, as long as no such toys are there its prolly just hype.

B. Prokop said...

I love it! Carrier writes, "Everything involved in reasoning ... is accomplished by purely, reductively physical machines [which] require no intelligent design."

And yet he conveniently ignores the fact that said machines are intelligently designed! (by humans)

Doug said...

I think Richard isn't clear on intentionality, for starters. And as another computer science engineer (participant in Loebner Competition, familiar with the code of Watson and Siri), I couldn't help but chuckle. He simply has no clue.

unkleE said...

Thanks for an interesting link, Victor. The "facts" he mentions are interesting, though, going by what Heuristics and Doug have said, maybe not totally factual.

I too was interested in his comment about his "refutation" of Vic's AFR, and the fact that the machines had to be designed first. The same applied to his comment that "they had better not forget to frontload some morality into any machine they try making self-sentient". If his arguments are true, wouldn't morality simply evolve in the machine. As it is, he is needing to intelligently design in morality as well as logic.

im-skeptical said...

This is one of the last bastions of religion - one of the few remaining places where scientific research has yet to sweep away their god of the gaps. They cling to the idea that rationality can't arise from a material source, and will resist any notion to the contrary, because they know there's precious little space left in which their god can play a role in our existence. Might as well get used to it. Science triumphs over religious superstition every time.

Ten years from now, it may not be a robot apocalypse, but I predict we will see real rationality from computers or robots.

BenYachov said...

>Ten years from now, it may not be a robot apocalypse, but I predict we will see real rationality from computers or robots.

Who knew there was an atheist version of Harold Camping? You ca take Carrier out of fundamentalism but you cant take the fundamentalist out of Carrier.

Hard AI's are never going happen as Nagel pointed out in painful detail we are not even close.

But maybe this hype will produce more funding that will produce a better processor that will make for better FPS and RPG Games.

B. Prokop said...

Ben,

You're tilting at windmills here. These guys can't beat you at the facts, so they always punt to the future, where they can't be contradicted. Just like Papalinton forever predicting the bright atheist tomorrow as foreseen by H.G. Wells. (Only he started out saying it would be here by the 1930s - Oh, well. You can always update your predictions, and still claim to be right.)

Watch this space. Ten years from now, they'll be saying we'll get there within ten years - just you wait and see!

Hal said...

im-skeptical,

I'm having trouble following your reasoning here.

Why should the fact that we have the technology to build machines that can mimic some of our mental capacities entail the non-existence of God?


BenYachov said...

Hal

He thinks we are ten years away from making C3PO or Lt Commander Data.

He thinks we will build a machine one day that can actually think like a human & maybe have consciousness.

Sam said...

I don't think computers will ever be conscious. I don't think it's even possible.

But I think artificial intelligence could become so sophisticated that we won't be able to tell whether computers are conscious or not, and when we get to that point, there'll be a lot of debate about it. We might argue over whether robots should have rights.

Zach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
im-skeptical said...

Hal,

It doesn't entail the non-existence of god, but it would disprove the theists adamant claims that rationality can only come from god.

B. Prokop said...

im-skeptical,

How so? After all, the only thing you would have demonstrated is that rationality comes from design.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

"After all, the only thing you would have demonstrated is that rationality comes from design"

I think you missed the point of the article. It's talking adaptive neural networks that develop their own rational processes. That's precisely how brains work. It may be primitive at this stage, but it's a good start.

B. Prokop said...

No, I noticed that when I read the article. Doesn't change anything. You seem to be confusing people who use the AfR with YEC's. The AfR is quite compatible (and indeed comfortable) with evolution (of which your "adaptive neural networks" are an analog.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

It has been stated here that rationality cannot arise from a non-rational source. Non-rational means purely material in this context. In other words, rationality can only come from an immaterial intelligence. I have objected that that statement is unfounded and should require some kind of substantiation, only to be told (in so many words) to bugger off. We are seeing evidence that that old assertion is on very shaky ground, and I think by ten years from now, it will be dead and buried.

B. Prokop said...

"We are seeing evidence that that old assertion is on very shaky ground"

No, we're not - not in the least. These "adaptive neural networks" are themselves a product of design - that of the engineers who are building them. All you're doing is changing the way in which a designed mechanism works, but you haven't removed the initial design. No shaky ground here.

(So now go bugger off.)

BenYachov said...

>(So now go bugger off.)

Wow you Gnus are incredible! I mean I was always a hothead, cruel, impatient and didn't suffer fools gladly.
Bob has always been an inspiration to me because of the heroic Christian patience he had with you dirtbags.

Now you have finally exhausted his patience with your guys just being you!

Well I am almost not surprised. You people fundies the lot of ya only without god-belief.

Victor Reppert said...

I-S: Non-rational means purely material in this context. In other words, rationality can only come from an immaterial intelligence.

VR: Actually, the definition goes the other way. When we try to come of with what counts as "material," the interesting definitions of that define the mental out of it, at least at the basic level of analysis. If you import rationality into a description of matter, then it can be material only in the sense that it occupies space. I might be able to qualify as a materialist if that's all you need in order for something to be called matter. The problem is that non-mental facts, piled up as high as you, don't entail facts about the mental. This is a logical gap, and it seems to me the only way to bridge it is to fudge categories.

B. Prokop said...

Ben, Ben, Ben...

I didn't write that in anger. I was just ironically quoting (in jest, you could say) im-skeptical's own words: " I have objected that that statement is unfounded and should require some kind of substantiation, only to be told (in so many words) to bugger off."

But you are right. It is exasperating,always being lumped in with the YECs. Just imagine how the scientismists would feel if they were always being associated with phlogiston chemistry or the aether theory of universal vibration.

B. Prokop said...

By the way, this topic is weirdly appropriate right now, seeing as how I am in the middle of watching Blade Runner for the very first time, on DVD. I somehow missed this one when it was in the theaters in 1982 - probably because my oldest daughter had just been born and we weren't going out to the movies at all that year.

Talk about your Robot Apocalypse!

Hal said...

Victor,
"When we try to come of with what counts as "material," the interesting definitions of that define the mental out of it, at least at the basic level of analysis. If you import rationality into a description of matter, then it can be material only in the sense that it occupies space."

What is rationality?

Seems to me that the concept only makes sense when applied in the context of our human way of life. Someone is rational when we see that there is a good reason for her behavior. And those reasons are largely dependent on the needs and wants that are specific to human beings.

It makes little sense to think we could apply the concept of "rationality" to behavior at the chemical or atomic level because we have no criteria for doing so.

I think the same is true of applying it to machines. What would count for a calculating machine to act rationally?

Victor Reppert said...

If something happens in your brain because you perceive a logical relationship, and that logical relationship does not have a particular location is space and time, then something that doesn't have a spatial location is causing something to happen in the brain. If materialism can countenance this, then it can countenance just about anything.

Walter said...

@Bob

By the way, this topic is weirdly appropriate right now, seeing as how I am in the middle of watching Blade Runner for the very first time.

That one is a classic. If you like science fiction, you should try renting I, Robot next.

B. Prokop said...

I read the book!

Hal said...

Victor,
"If something happens in your brain because you perceive a logical relationship, and that logical relationship does not have a particular location is space and time, then something that doesn't have a spatial location is causing something to happen in the brain."

Why the assumption that mental causation is true? There are other ways to explain and understand human behavior.



Doug Benscoter said...

As others have mentioned, these robots and machines are intelligently designed. Far from putting the nail in the coffin to the AfR, it only further supports.

im-skeptical said...

"these robots and machines are intelligently designed."

The machine is designed. The rational function develops without being explicitly programmed in. There's a big difference.

mattghg said...

You're tilting at windmills here. These guys can't beat you at the facts, so they always punt to the future, where they can't be contradicted

Yes!

B. Prokop said...

"There's a big difference."

Not really... in fact, not at all.

The rational function does not need to be explicitly programmed in for it to be nevertheless the product of design, as long as the initial capability for said function to "evolve" has been designed, as is the case here.

David said...

It is hard to read Carrier without feeling sad about the human race. It is depressing to witness such pure, unadulterated self-love. He simply cannot help himself. He can't write: I argued against... He has to write: I composed an extensive refutation... He cannot say: these new robots support my case.. He is compelled to write: These new “robots” are proof positive of my case. He can't say: this is suggestive of reasoning.. Instead he must write This explains all reasoning.

And on and on, viz.,

But now the Argument from Reason is toppled for good, too.

where I demonstrate the physically reductive reality of objective moral facts (with help from my previous blogs

blah, blah, blah.

What a pathetic, narcissistic ass.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

"The rational function does not need to be explicitly programmed in for it to be nevertheless the product of design, as long as the initial capability for said function to "evolve" has been designed, as is the case here."

By your way of thinking, it is impossible to ever build a machine that can demonstrate reductive rationality. Therefore, you win by definition. Typical of so many theistic arguments.

Doug Benscoter said...

im-skeptical, I don't think Bob is defining intelligent design to be true by definition. He's simply observing that unless a machine is built with the potentiality to evolve sentience and intelligence (and even that is suspect), it will never do so. No potentiality can actualize itself, which means on a purely metaphysical level, that the potentiality to become sentient cannot actualize itself.

B. Prokop said...

"it is impossible to ever build a machine that can demonstrate reductive rationality"

Yup.

"Typical of so many theistic arguments"

Again, yup. (That is, if you mean by that, typically correct.)

But all levity aside, all I am pointing out in my argument is that "reductive rationality" is a self-contradictory concept. It contains its own refutation.

im-skeptical said...

Doug and Bob,

"... on a purely metaphysical level, that the potentiality to become sentient cannot actualize itself."

The physics of Aristotle has become the metaphysics of Thomists. It has become a separate plane reality, where there is no need to demonstrate the truth of claims about how things work - you only have to assert that it is so. And by holding on to that separate reality, you have license to assert the falsity of things that are observable back here in our own world.

Whatever floats your boat.

Hal said...

im-skeptical,
"By your way of thinking, it is impossible to ever build a machine that can demonstrate reductive rationality."

What is "reductive rationality"? I don't understand what that means.

Simply because a machine is built to mimic some of our mental capacities is not sufficent reason for attributing rationality to it. Look at how we use the words "rational" and "rationality" when discussing human behavior.
Our concept of rationality was formed on the basis of such behavior. I'm having difficulty seeing how that word could be used to characterize the activity of a computer without greatly changing its meaning.

By the way I would not recommend relying on Mr. Carrier for any philosophical wisdom. There are much better sources out there. Herman Phillipse has a new book out: God in thr Age of Science which is supposed to be fairly good. Later this year Blacwell will be releasing A Companionto the Problem of Evil. Blackwell also has a companion on Natural Theology which should have some of the best current arguments for the theistic side. And it is available on the Kindle for a reasonable price.

At least try to stick to well published philosophers who have had their work reviewed by their peers.

B. Prokop said...

"You have license to assert the falsity of things that are observable back here in our own world."

I'm not asserting the falsity of any observations. Not at all. I'm contesting Carrier's interpretation of those observations.

Whole 'nother ball o' wax.

im-skeptical said...

Hal,

What I mean by reductive rationality is rational behavior (including logical reasoning) that does not involve any immaterial component or explanation. Human brains are the most obvious example of this, although Bob insists that it is absurd to even posit the idea, because to him, rationality can only come from god.

"Simply because a machine is built to mimic some of our mental capacities is not sufficent reason for attributing rationality to it."

Again, that's not what has been demonstrated by these experiments. The machine was not built to mimic human behavior, it was built to mimic the physical function of a brain. Computers of this type are very different from the ones we are generally familiar with. The rational behavior followed naturally from the physical function of the machine. Sorry, Bob.

I'm not sure why you think I was looking to carrier as a source of philosophical wisdom. but thanks for the recommendations.

Doug Benscoter said...

im-skeptical, nothing could be further from the truth. Thomists offer robust defenses of their metaphysical claims. I'd be willing to defend, and not merely assert, Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics any day.

B. Prokop said...

"The rational behavior followed naturally from the physical function of the machine. Sorry, Bob."

And how is this antithetical to said rational behavior resulting from design? In the case of our own brains, they are designed so as to be capable of rationality (i.e., following from their natural function). And the fruits of that design were achieved by means of evolutionary processes (which were themselves designed, just as the means for your beloved machines to (perhaps) develop rationality were designed by their programmers).

In each case, form follows intent. (And yes, I am a firm believer in teleology.)

So there's no need to be sorry. (Unless you're apologizing for your error. In that case, apology accepted.)

BenYachov said...

>The physics of Aristotle has become the metaphysics of Thomists.

This fucking idiot has only been corrected a 100 times on this error & yet insists on repeating it.

From either myself, maybe Crude or grodriges & it just goes in one ear and out the other.

I'm convinced IM lives in his own little fantasy world where Dawkins tells him lovely fairy tales about big bad Theologians & the heroic scientists who know all things who fight them. Oh and Philosophy is the same as theology in this world.

Geez you and Positivism ought to get a room!

B. Prokop said...

Careful, Ben, or soon you'll be telling him to bugger off!

BenYachov said...

Well Bob I am the hothead.

Hal said...

im-skeptical,
"What I mean by reductive rationality is rational behavior (including logical reasoning) that does not involve any immaterial component or explanation. Human brains are the most obvious example of this, although Bob insists that it is absurd to even posit the idea, because to him, rationality can only come from god."

Thanks for explaining what you mean by that terminology.

I am having trouble understanding why you would think a human brain is an example of rational behavior. As I tried to indicate earlier, substances such as ourselves exhibit rational behavior. It is such behavior within our varying forms of living from which we have drawn our conception of rationality.

We have well established criteria for attributing rationality to people. For example, if someone can give a good reason for their behavior we would take that for a sign of rational behavior.

What criteria are you using to determine that a brain is behaving rationally?

im-skeptical said...

Hal,

I think we're talking two different languages, and perhaps until I read more on the material you have suggested, I don't really understand yours. You say: "substances such as ourselves exhibit rational behavior", but you also say: "I am having trouble understanding why you would think a human brain is an example of rational behavior" and at the same time you call yourself a physicalist. What I might conclude from that is that you don't believe the brain is the organ that is primarily responsible for producing rational human behavior, but there is something else that serves this function - something physical but not the brain? People exhibit rationality but their brains don't? Frankly, I'm confused about what you believe. I think the brain is the organ that performs our cognitive function and all of our mental processes.

im-skeptical said...

Good ol' Ben'

"This fucking idiot has only been corrected a 100 times on this error & yet insists on repeating it."

Yes, Aristotle described potency and actualization in his book "Physics" as the mechanism by which movement occurs. It was his understanding of how things work. If you think I'm wrong about that, please cite the appropriate passages from Aristotle so that I may be enlightened.

Doug Benscoter said...

im-skeptical, Aristotle mentions potentiality and actuality in both his Physics and his Metaphysics. What's been disproven by modern science is not that aspect of Aristotle's philosophy, but rather his notions of the aether and the like. Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

By the way, potentiality and actuality doesn't have so much to do with movement as it does with change in general.

B. Prokop said...

Doug,

You might find it interesting that many astronomers make a point of saying that what is now called "dark energy" (which supposedly makes up the bulk of the universe) is pretty much the same thing as the ancients' idea of aether. So perhaps we ought to not be so hasty with that bathwater!

im-skeptical said...

Doug,

"Aristotle mentions potentiality and actuality in both his Physics and his Metaphysics"

That's a good point. Back then, there was no huge gulf between the two. They were in harmony. Today's physics is drastically different from the metaphysics of Thomists - so much so that they appear to describe entirely separate realms of existence. I don't think metaphysics should be so out of sync with physics.

Hal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hal said...

im-skeptical,

Here is my reply to your post dated April 26, 2013 8:04 AM:

I think we can address the physicalist issue rather quickly. I call myself a physicalist because I don't think there is good empirical evidence for any other substance. So I basically take physicalism to be a negative position.

Perhaps a good way that we can start to deal with our different conceptions regarding the brain and rational behavior is if you answer the question I posed to you earlier: what criteria are you using to determine that a brain is behaving rationally?

I gave you an example of how we can do that with other people: if someone can give a reason for his behavior we would take that as meeting one of the criteria for attributing rationality to him.

Doug Benscoter said...

Bob, I never really thought of that!

im-skeptical, Aristotle also mentions logic in these texts. That doesn't mean we should abandon logic, does it? The fact is, he got some things right and others wrong. If you can demonstrate the inconsistency between actuality/potentiality and modern physics, then we might have something to debate.

im-skeptical said...

Doug,

I would never reject everything Aristotle has said merely because I don't agree with part of it. His ideas of physics have been superseded by others that have far more value in understanding how things work. I think that's something most people agree about. Those ideas included the notions of potentiality/actuality as the explanation for 'movement', which he defined as change in substance, in quality, in quantity and in place.

In Metaphysics, he describes the prime mover as the ultimate cause of all motion. The concept of potentiality/actuality itself was the physical explanation - the prime mover was the metaphysical explanation.

Modern physics has completely abandoned the Aristotelian concept of potentiality/actuality. (If you can find any reference to it in recent scientific literature, I would be interested to see that.) The only place it retains any relevance is in the Thomistic metaphysics, as far as I know. But as I said, it had to be pulled into the realm of metaphysics because it was no longer part of physics, thereby making Thomistic metaphysics an ancient anachronism that doesn't reflect our current understanding of the physical world.

im-skeptical said...

Hal,

"Perhaps a good way that we can start to deal with our different conceptions regarding the brain and rational behavior is if you answer the question I posed to you earlier: what criteria are you using to determine that a brain is behaving rationally?"

I'm trying to parse the question to get to the essence of what you want to know from me. At a literal level, I would agree with you that people exhibit behavior that may be described as rational and brains don't really exhibit behavior. They cause people to exhibit behavior. So in my view, the brain is the organ that produces rational behavior in people.

How does the brain cause behavior? Some of it is purely mechanistic. There is no thought or conscious intent involved. Such behavior probably wouldn't meet your definition of 'rational'. Other behavior does involve conscious mental activity, and here we may be getting closer. To say that we have a reason is not good enough to my way of thinking, because the reason might still be purely physical or emotional. So I would amend that by stipulating that the reason would have to be a 'logical' reason to qualify as a criterion for describing the behavior as rational.

So now we're talking about what most people call 'mind'. We think about some action, we have a logical reason to do it, and we act. This is what I think you would call rational behavior. What's doing the thinking? I believe it is the brain. Thinking and consciousness are activities of the brain. And here's where we seem to part in our understanding of things, and where I no longer follow what your conception is.

BenYachov said...

>Yes, Aristotle described potency and actualization in his book "Physics" as the mechanism by which movement occurs.

No he made a metaphysical modeling of what he thought was the mechanisms by which physical movement occurs. Potency and Actuality can't be mechanisms but metaphysical descriptions of how mechanisms work.

For example claiming (erroneously) that an objects natural state was stasis and they required constant actualization to stay in physical motion is a description of mechanism.(This false physics was overthrown by Newton).

This is the sort of category mistake one expects from an idiot who mindlessly believes in Positivism on crack.

>It was his understanding of how things work. If you think I'm wrong about that, please cite the appropriate passages from Aristotle so that I may be enlightened.

Why should I do your homework for you? Your the one who made a positive claim "Aristotle described potency and actualization in his book "Physics" as the mechanism by which movement occurs."
You have to first show us where he makes that claim.(He doesn't btw).

So put up or shut up. Prove to us you haven't been lying when you said you would do the required reading.

But we all know you are twice the idiot Paps & about half as educated.

BenYachov said...

I know I am repeating myself but

>"Aristotle mentions potentiality and actuality in both his Physics and his Metaphysics"

>That's a good point. Back then, there was no huge gulf between the two.

Rather scientists till modern times where well learned in both physical sciences and philosophy.

Where as Positivists like IM believe they should be either radically separate or they radically equivocate between the two.

Heisenberg for example knew a great deal about classic and modern philosophy and made philosophical modelings of his various Theories of Quantum Physics. Especially using Plato and Aristotle.

>They were in harmony. Today's physics is drastically different from the metaphysics of Thomists -

As we can see above IM dogmatically equivocates between physics and metaphysics. for him metaphysics has nothing to do with philosophy but is just a form of empirical scientific physics for spooky stuff.

The Positivism runs deep.

>so much so that they appear to describe entirely separate realms of existence. I don't think metaphysics should be so out of sync with physics.

As we can se IM sees all of reality purely in terms of empirical science alone. The concept of philosophy is alien to him and he refuses to learn any of it.

im-skeptical said...

Ben,

http://www.iep.utm.edu/aris-mot/

BenYachov said...

Some more errors.

>I would never reject everything Aristotle has said merely because I don't agree with part of it.

Rather you refuse to learn anything about it or make any effort to understand it. To this day you still think metaphysics is just some form of particle physics for gods or something.

>His ideas of physics have been superseded by others that have far more value in understanding how things work.

Which has nothing to do with his metaphysics or actually vs potency. After all I could hold his physics or Newton's and model either using the actually vs potency distinction or I could abandon realism and use Parmenides for either and deny the change.

But of course I would still have to use philosophy to justify Parmenides vs Aristole's metaphysics.

Im-skeptical is simply too stupid to understand either from a hole in the head.

>I think that's something most people agree about. Those ideas included the notions of potentiality/actuality as the explanation for 'movement', which he defined as change in substance, in quality, in quantity and in place.

Another example of confusion here. I'm-skeptical is now agreeing with Aristotle's metaphysics where as he earlier said science has overthrown it.

>In Metaphysics, he describes the prim
e mover as the ultimate cause of all motion. The concept of potentiality/actuality itself was the physical explanation - the prime mover was the metaphysical explanation.

Wrong! Potentiality/actuality are metaphysical explanations of any change. Postulating a Prime Mover is an argument as to why there is a reality that contains things that go from potency to actuality based on the consequences of having such things.

An object put into motion that stays in motion till acted upon by something else is a physical explanation of mechanism. Duh!

This has all been explained to him & it's gone in one ear out the other.

Hopeless!

>Modern physics has completely abandoned the Aristotelian concept of potentiality/actuality.

You don't need any philosophy to do physics anymore then you need philosophy to program your VCR. But it you want to give models beyond the empirical then you need philosophy. If you want to proclaim the Physical is All There Is then you have to make a philosophical argument for it not an argument from physics.

Positivism has always been a failure. hilosophy always buries it's undertakers.

>(If you can find any reference to it in recent scientific literature, I would be interested to see that.)

Which makes about as much sense has trying to find a biology text that gives the atomic weight of natural selection! What there isn't any? Ok then from the perspective of biology the concept of atomic weight must be bogus. Gnu PLEEZ!

Do you see now how IM is too stupid to tie his own shoes?

>The only place it retains any relevance is in the Thomistic metaphysics, as far as I know. But as I said, it had to be pulled into the realm of metaphysics because it was no longer part of physics, thereby making

Gibberish!

>Thomistic metaphysics an ancient anachronism that doesn't reflect our current understanding of the physical world.

Like I said no better then asking "What is the atomic weight of natural selection?".

Or stupid creationist types claiming evolution is "refuted" by the second law of thermodynamics.

IM you are dumber then a bag of hammers.

Doug Benscoter said...

im-skeptical, with respect, you're making a lot of unsubstantiated claims. Why do you state that science has abandoned the potentiality/actuality distinction? Is it just because they don't talk about it? Which scientists are you talking about? A citation would be nice.

In any case, potentiality and actuality are just commonsensical concepts. An acorn is merely an acorn in actuality, but it exemplifies the potentiality of becoming an oak tree. Moreover, the acorn requires some actuality to actualize its potentiality, e.g. soil, water and sunlight. Don't you agree?

BenYachov said...


im-stupid gives us a link

http://www.iep.utm.edu/aris-mot/

The first sentence of that link from the Internet Encyclopedia of philosophy.

"Aristotle’s account of motion can be found in the Physics. By motion, Aristotle (384-322 BCE) understands any kind of change.."

Right of the barn it defines it solely in terms of change not in terms of the mechanism of physical movement or physics. Nowhere does it say Aristotle described potency and actualization in his book "Physics" as the "mechanism" by which movement occurs.

The essay is very informative & gives rational philosophical and linguistic analysis and critique of Aristotle and Aquinas' philosophical views on motion.

It is grouped under philosophy of science but not under the science of physics.
The essay is about philosophy.

Epic fail!

BenYachov said...

I know what is going on here. I've seen it before.

An empirical scientific text might contain nothing but statements of pure empirical science without any reference to any philosophical modeling of the science described.

Or it might contain some philosophical modeling. I seem to remember reading some popular theoretical physics book on the unreality of time that modeled time in terms of Parmenides.

im-stupid seems to think because potency and actuality was cited in Aristotle's book Physics it must be an empirical scientific discription like Newton's first law of motion.

Yes he is that stupid.

im-skeptical said...

Doug,

"Why do you state that science has abandoned the potentiality/actuality distinction? Is it just because they don't talk about it? Which scientists are you talking about? A citation would be nice."

Yes, it is true that they don't talk about it. No scientific paper that I'm aware of in recent times discusses this as part of the explanation for anything. It is simply irrelevant in this age. I can't cite any references because I'm not aware of any (in scientific literature).

"In any case, potentiality and actuality are just commonsensical concepts. ... Don't you agree?"

In a sense, sure. The idea has been around for a long time. But it doesn't have any explanatory power. Consider a rock. What is its potency? It could become a paving stone - part of a street upon which we walk. It could yield metal ore and become money, or part of a structure. It could be used as a weapon to kill someone. Only when some outcome like that is achieved (actualization), are we able to say that it had this potency. So what is the predictive power of the concept? What insight does it give us?

im-skeptical said...

Ben,

I linked that article because it is a philosophical discussion of Aristotle's concepts of potency/actuality in physics. You are correct that the word 'mechanism' is my own word, not Aristotle's. Nevertheless, the article is about physics. And you could at least give me credit for having some rudimentary understanding of his ideas. For example, his definition of motion as change. Go back and read what I said.

If you weren't so stuck on your view that I can't possibly know anything, you might begin to see at least a little sense in some small part of what I have to say, even if you don't agree with any of it. One piece of advice I have for you is to recognize that philosophy and metaphysics are broader than the Thomistic versions you adhere to. There are other views, and you don't have to be stupid to espouse them, nor do you have to be stupid to reject Thomism.

BenYachov said...

im-skeptical/stupid just can't write anything that even remotely shows he either a) knows what he is talking about regarding the topic at hand or b) is in anyway intelligent.

>In a sense, sure. The idea has been around for a long time. But it doesn't have any explanatory power. Consider a rock. What is its potency? It could become a paving stone - part of a street upon which we walk. It could yield metal ore and become money, or part of a structure.

This idiot can not tell the difference between Nature vs Art. The "potential" for a rock to become a paving stone has to do with Artifice not Nature & it has little to do with questions of being. In fact everything he cited above & after has to do with Art. Humans taking objects in nature & arranging them in some way is Art. It has nothing to do with change in the sense of nature or being. A Rock has a potential to melt or become gas or plasma if heated hot enough. The potential to do any of this cannot actualize itself and is a power of it' s nature. Something else already actual must cause these powers to become realities. Why is this the case and what are the implications of it in discussions of being? Is the change real & what are the implications?

>So what is the predictive power of the concept? What insight does it give us?

Appart from your inability to distinguish between Artifice vs Nature the reality of change gives us insight into the nature of being and it asks other questions of philosophical importance. But of course IM rejects philosophy in favor of a Positivist outlook. "Predictive Power" is the language of mechanism and empirical science not philosophy.

BenYachov said...

@im-skeptical
>I linked that article because it is a philosophical discussion of Aristotle's concepts of potency/actuality in physics.

How dishonest! It is about his metaphysical concept of motion that was cited in his book PHYSICS.. It is about philosophy of science not the science of Physics.

You are too stupid to even bother to learn the difference.

>You are correct that the word 'mechanism' is my own word, not Aristotle's.

You make up whatever shit you want to fit your own fantasies. Accuracy & learning are not in your vocabulary.

>Nevertheless, the article is about physics.

No the article is about Philosophy of Science and the metaphysical description of "any change" as his definition of motion as cited in his book PHYSICS. It has nothing to do with Newton's scientific descriptions of physical motion. That is as plain as my big nose.

>And you could at least give me credit for having some rudimentary understanding of his ideas.

You get none at all since you can't read the Queen's English and make up shit as you go.

>For example, his definition of motion as change. Go back and read what I said.

I addressed it point by point & you clearly think Act/Potency is some form of Physical Law of Motion to rival Newton. You don't understand the difference between science, philosophy or metaphysics and you have no desire to learn since you keep repeating the same mistakes.

>If you weren't so stuck on your view that I can't possibly know anything, you might begin to see at least a little sense in some small part of what I have to say, even if you don't agree with any of it.

Is this English? I thought my grammar sucked? You don't know what you are talking about and no amount of whining can make up for such obvious ignorance .

>One piece of advice I have for you is to recognize that philosophy and metaphysics are broader than the Thomistic versions you adhere to. There are other views, and you don't have to be stupid to espouse them, nor do you have to be stupid to reject Thomism.

I would have a lot of respect for someone who would say "I reject the metaphysics of Aristotle/Aquinas and I embrace the metaphysics of "fill-in-the blank"(i.e. Plato? Heraclides? Democritus? Materialism? etc) and here is my philosophical argument as to why I think his moderate realism is wrong and why my metaphysics is correct "Fill-in-the-arguments".

However I have no respect for a fucking idiots who in spite of multiple corrections from the polite and jerks like me still makes fucking stupid statements like "Today's physics is drastically different from the metaphysics of Thomists". Which is about as stupid as saying "Today's science of biology is drastically different from quantum physics of yesterday".
Or again "2nd Law of Thermodynamics is against evolution blah blah blah".

You are too stupid to have this conversation & you cannot be corrected.

You don't know a category mistake from your own anus.

im-skeptical said...

Ben,

Clue #2: Aristotle was not a Thomist, either. There ARE other ways to see things.

BenYachov said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BenYachov said...

>Clue #2: Aristotle was not a Thomist, either. There ARE other ways to see things

Yes I know this and you are still a fucking ignorant idiot for saying"Today's physics is drastically different from the metaphysics of Thomists".

You are a fucking idiot. You get no credit for having even a rudimentary understanding of either Aristotle or Aquinas or philosophy in general.

If Stephen Jay Gould is right about Punctuated Equilibrium and Dawkins is wrong guess what? Dawkins is still right to tell any Creationist who repeatedly claims "The 2nd Law of Thermal Dynamics refutes evolution" (after multiple explanations and corrections) that he also is a fucking idiot.

You don't know what you are talking about. Accept it!

BenYachov said...

In a like matter if reductionist materialism with metaphysical naturalism is right and Aquinas style Theism is wrong guess what IM?

You still don't know what you are talking about.

Get over it. I am not going to tell you to go learn some philosophy because we both know that would be futile.

im-skeptical said...

Ben,

Here's the thing. I have learned a little. I have made an effort to understand Thomism enough to realize that it is nothing but bullshit. It has no value. It only serves to give you an excuse to believe in your non-existent god. It is a lie. And so are you.

BenYachov said...

Now we see I'm-skeptical is no different than Paps.

>Here's the thing. I have learned a little.

You have learned nothing & how long has it been?
The guy who showed up named I'm-skeptical and was ernest & willing to learn was just a ruse. He never existed did he?

It is self-evident from reading your shit over the past year and half.

>I have made an effort to understand Thomism enough to realize that it is nothing but bullshit.

You haven't even learned the elementary distinctions between Philosophy, metaphysics & Science much less Thomism!

That is like trying to figure out formulas in quantum physics without learning basic math!

For you Act/Potency is not different than Newton's Laws. Like I said your the idiot asking what is the atomic weight of Natural Selection finding no answer in biology and concluding Atoms are bullshit.

That is you.

> It has no value. It only serves to give you an excuse to believe in your non-existent god. It is a lie. And so are you.

Sorry but dguller who is an Atheist over at Feser blog knows more then I do & is asking me challanging questions on the Trinity I am having trouble answering(yours where fucking ridiculous) & he is making me go back to do more reading because even I don't know it all.

I respect him.

You are an anti-intellectual mindless Gnu for whom Atheism is a mere Fad.

How can I respect that? I don't.

Doug Benscoter said...

im-skeptical,

"Yes, it is true that they don't talk about it. No scientific paper that I'm aware of in recent times discusses this as part of the explanation for anything. It is simply irrelevant in this age. I can't cite any references because I'm not aware of any (in scientific literature)."

Why would any scientific paper need to mention it? As I said before, scientists don't talk about all kinds of things we take to be true. Imagine if we rejected symbolic logic because there were no scientific articles published on it. That would hardly be any reason to reject it.

"In a sense, sure. The idea has been around for a long time. But it doesn't have any explanatory power. Consider a rock. What is its potency? It could become a paving stone - part of a street upon which we walk. It could yield metal ore and become money, or part of a structure. It could be used as a weapon to kill someone. Only when some outcome like that is achieved (actualization), are we able to say that it had this potency. So what is the predictive power of the concept? What insight does it give us?"

First, you're conflating explanatory power with predictive power. They're not the same thing. You just listed several examples of how a rock exhibits various potentialities, but then object that we don't have any predictive power. If that were true, then we wouldn't be able to use a rock as a weapon, for example. In any case, this criterion that states sense-perception and empirical data have a monopoly on truth is not only unsupported; it's literally self-defeating.

im-skeptical said...

Doug,

In addition to not showing up in scientific research, it doesn't show up in scientific education, either. I've been through plenty of it. It just has no role in science at all. Regarding explanatory or predictive power, I mentioned both. It doesn't describe how things change, nor does it enable us to say how things can be expected change.

Now you may say that this is only metaphysical and not to be understood as a brand of physics. But metaphysics is about what constitutes all of reality, be it natural or supernatural. It shouldn't be at odds with physics at all. They should be in agreement, at least as far as they intersect with one another.

"In any case, this criterion that states sense-perception and empirical data have a monopoly on truth is not only unsupported; it's literally self-defeating."

That's not what I maintain, and I have said as much before.

BenYachov said...

>That's not what I maintain, and I have said as much before.

He is a liar he believes science alone is the sole means of knowledge & he has no understanding nor has he EVER displayed any cognition of any knowledge beyond science alone.

Like I said Positivism on crack!

>In addition to not showing up in scientific research, it doesn't show up in scientific education, either. I've been through plenty of it. It just has no role in science at all.

See what I mean?

>Now you may say that this is only metaphysical and not to be understood as a brand of physics.

Which is a basic self-evident fact like Quantum Physics isn't a brand of Biology.

>But metaphysics is about what constitutes all of reality, be it natural or supernatural.

You see what I say? He thinks metaphysics is some sort of weird branch of physics dealing with gods or spirits or woo.

Claiming Nature is all that exists or matter is a metaphysical claim. One need no postulate the supernatural to make on or to try to argue philosophically for these views.

But he can't comprehend that he knows only science alone without any philosophy.

>It shouldn't be at odds with physics at all. They should be in agreement, at least as far as they intersect with one another.

The above is about as coherent a statement as saying "Quantum Physics should be in agreement with Natural selection blah blah blah....

These Gnu Atheists types are just Philistines, mentally & intellectually inferior.

ingx24 said...

This is a blog post I wrote on Aristotelianism and hylomorphic dualism a while back. It's relatively brief and I think it could be more clear and developed than it is, but it should give you guys an idea of where I stand on Aristotelianism/Thomism in general:

http://ingx32.blogspot.com/2013/04/aristotelianism-and-hylomorphic-dualism.html

grodrigues said...

@BenYachov:

"But he can't comprehend that he knows only science alone without any philosophy."

Do you have any reason to presume he knows science? Can it be truly said of someone who abuses science by making the asinine categorical pronouncements im-skeptical does, that he understands science?

"These Gnu Atheists types are just Philistines, mentally & intellectually inferior."

And intellectually dishonest. Stupidity or idiocy I can handle, as I am not that bright myself, but intellectual dishonesty?

It is hilarious though, watching im-skeptical fake an understanding.

BenYachov said...

>Do you have any reason to presume he knows science?

Your right I'm being too generous here.

B. Prokop said...

I have no opinion of im-skeptical's knowledge of science, but grodrigues has hit on something that has long bugged me about atheists who spout off about how they rely on "science" for their worldview when they have no more expertise in the field than I have in medicine, i.e., purely what I'm told by experts and/or read about in the press.

real scientists (and I know many) are quite careful to delineate between their own subject areas and those of others. For example, my experience is that geologists will gladly defer to biologists when appropriate, or immunologists to sociologists depending on the circumstances - and they do it humbly and willingly (and reciprocally).

But the gnu scientismists will just claim the whole kit and kaboodle without distinction and utterly without warrant. And worse, after having unjustifiably asserting their ownership over "science", they expel from the party any and all who do not subscribe to their narrow worldview. Thus we get (as discussed in a previous thread) Dawkins purging the ranks of the likes of John Lennox, who he assuses of "masquerading" as a scientist because he dares to believe in the possibility of the miraculous. (And this despite Dawkins's utter failure to come up with a single convincing argument against said possibility.)

Or, to confine ourselves to this website, we get atheist posters who resolutely ignore the uncomfortable fact that the overwhelming majority of Great Scientists throughout history have been people of faith. We get repetitive references to a nonexistent "God of the Gaps" (a figment of their own imaginations) or to a completely imaginary "War between Science and Religion" (whose only participants seem to be the absolute stupidest of adherents on either "side").

And worst of all, they exhibit an ironclad unwillingness to learn anything new or to admit the least error. You can patiently point out to them where they are mistaken about something, or where they lack knowledge or understanding of a concept, and they will return to the very same error in their next "contribution". As Saint Peter wrote, "It has happened to them according to the true proverb. The dog turns back to its own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire."

Hal said...

Im-skeptical,
Thanks for the correction on my example. A person does need to have a good reason for her behavior or her behavior may not be considered rational.
I'm just going to post a few comments to your response in the hopes that you will be ablet to understand a little better my conception of the mind.

You wrote: “I'm trying to parse the question to get to the essence of what you want to know from me. At a literal level, I would agree with you that people exhibit behavior that may be described as rational and brains don't really exhibit behavior.”
As you say, the “literal level” of language is what I am working with. I think that our understanding of reality is as much language-dependent as it is mind-dependent. So my focus here is on the concepts deployed in our descriptions of the world.

“They cause people to exhibit behavior. So in my view, the brain is the organ that produces rational behavior in people. “
It is my view that brains are necessary for people to behave rationally.

“How does the brain cause behavior?”
Unless either one of us are experts in the physiology of the human body, I think we can have little useful to say on the relationship of the brain to the rest of the organs involved in the movement of the human body.
As I indicated, my focus is a conceptual one. I’m not proposing a scientific theory explaining how the body is capable of motion.

The mental powers such as reasoning, thinking, imagining, remembering are powers of the human being. It is the human being who exercises those powers in her behavior and interactions. So it only makes sense to attribute those powers to the human not to some part of the human. To say that the brain is thinking would be like saying an airplane engine flies. Airplanes do need their engines to function properly in order to fly, but it is the airplane that flies not its engine.

Also, the mind, in my understanding, is not a thing or substance at all. We attribute a mind to a person because he displays an array of mental powers.
If the mind is not a thing or a substance or an entity of any kind, it hardly makes sense to identify it with the brain or the activities taking place in the brain.

B. Prokop said...

For myself, a decisive argument against "mind" being purely a function of physical brain activity is personal identity.

Just this morning, for some unknown reason, I was recalling to mind an event (falling into a deep hole) that occurred to me in what I'm fairly sure was the year 1956. Now it is an established fact that every last atom in our bodies is replaced after an 8-10 year period (except for those in our teeth). So on a purely materialistic level, I today am not the same person who fell into that hole nearly 60 years ago.

Yet I demonstrably am the same person. Ergo, there is something other than the purely material that links that individual called "Bob" in 1956 with me in the present year.

And if you believe otherwise, then you'd better be pressing for a radical reform of our judicial system, and pronto. Because we would then have no cause to charge anyone with a crime that occurred more than, say, 9 years ago, and no excuse for keeping a person in prison for longer than that period. It was some other guy wot dunnit!

im-skeptical said...

Hal,

Thanks for the clarification. It really sounds to me like a kind of dualism that you posit, very similar to the hylemorphic dualism of many theists, but perhaps without the eternal soul.

I also believe that mind has no substance, but it OF substance - that is, it is the physical activity of the brain. If you could separate a brain from the body, and wire up all its connections to sustain life and provide sensory input, the brain would function as normal, including its conscious experience.

Hal said...

im-skeptical,

Why would you think possession of a power entails dualism?

B. Prokop said...

Off topic, but thinking about early memories led to what follows:

Certain individuals on this site often disparage the New Testament, citing its alleged composition decades after the events described therein. Well... If I can with crystal clarity call to mind major events that I participated in more than 50 years after the fact, I see zero reason to suspect the veracity of the accounts we have of life-changing events such as the Resurrection set down a mere 30 years later, simply on those grounds. (Although I personally believe them to be much nearer to the events, but I won't argue that for now.)

Heck, at this moment, I can recall down to incredibly insignificant and irrelevant detail, the time I saw President Kennedy in 1961. Just imagine how well I would be able to call to mind witnessing something as momentous as a miracle, no matter how many decades intervened!

im-skeptical said...

Hal,

I don't think it entails dualism. I said your description sounds like dualism to me.

Hal said...

im-skeptical,

I fail to understand why you would think that.

I said that humans have a range of mental powers. They exercise those powers in their behavior and interactions.

And I specifically denied that the mind is any kind of object or substance. So it makes no sense to say that the mind interacts with the brain or body.

im-skeptical said...

Hal,

I still need to read up on your conception of mind to get a better understanding. I'm having trouble picturing it, but I'm sure that can be cured with more information. It was Wittgenstein, right?

Hal said...

im-skeptical,

I'll readily admit it is not easy understanding this conception of the mind because it can really only start to make sense if one is willing to question many of the assumptions that go into making up the more standard conceptions.

I am definitely in the Wittgenstein camp, so to speak. But you will find there are many different views within that camp (tradition).

P.M.S. Hacker, Anthony Kenny, Bede Rundle, and Hans-Johann Glock are philosophers working in that tradition who have greatly influenced my views.

On Hacker's site is a collection of downloadable papers. They can be found here.

I would suggest reading Substance: Things and Stuff to start with. Also, his Is there anything it is like to be a bat?. It is a critique of Nagel's paper.

Unfortunately his latest book, The Intellectual Powers: A Study of Human Nature , won't be out until later this year.

Of course, googling any of the other philosophers I listed will lead you to many other resources.

Hal said...

Sorry, that link to Hacker's book seems to be broken. Here is a good one:

The Intellectual Powers: A Study of Human Nature

im-skeptical said...

Hal,

Thanks for that.

Papalinton said...

"As Saint Peter wrote, "It has happened to them according to the true proverb. The dog turns back to its own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire."

This is the problematic nature of the Bible. We don't know what Peter wrote.
1 Peter and 2 Peter have been clearly written by two very different anonymous authors. They are pseudepigraphic.

One must desist quoting from unknown sources and unknown writers to maintain credibility.

BenYachov said...

>1 Peter and 2 Peter have been clearly written by two very different anonymous authors. They are pseudepigraphic.

How do you know that is true? Especially since Peter only may have produced two writings in his whole life?

Plus why can't an author change his writing style?

Lastly Peter was a fisherman so it is likely he had the help of scribe & how do we know he didn't employ a different scribe for the second letter?

You just pull this shit out of you arse Paps like IM does with ignorant offerings on philosophy.

BenYachov said...

>And worst of all, they exhibit an ironclad unwillingness to learn anything new or to admit the least error. You can patiently point out to them where they are mistaken about something, or where they lack knowledge or understanding of a concept, and they will return to the very same error in their next "contribution". As Saint Peter wrote, "It has happened to them according to the true proverb. The dog turns back to its own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire."

Amen to that Bob!

B. Prokop said...

The same logic that some scholars use to claim that the two letters of Peter had to have been written by separate people ("because they are so different in style") could also be used to "prove" that the Beatles could not possibly have put out both A Hard Day's Night and Sergeant Pepper's because the two albums are so utterly unlike each other. Or that Spartacus and 2001: A Space Odyssey absolutely had to have been directed by two different men.

Papalinton said...

Even Pope Benny admitted that both 1 Peter and 2 Peter were written by someone else. In fact he goes down the, 'woulda, shoulda, coulda' road, saying Peter used a scribe.
And the basis of the evidence the Pope uses?:
"In any case, we may conclude that the Letter itself points out to us that Peter was not alone in writing this Letter but it expresses the faith of a Church, which is already on a journey of faith, a faith increasingly mature.
He does not write alone, as an isolated individual; he writes with the assistance of the Church, of people who help him to deepen the faith, to enter into the depths of his thought, of his rationality, of his profundity."


This is Apologetics in hyperdrive, 'Peter was not alone in writing this Letter', which is a euphemism for 'We don't know who the hell wrote 1 Peter but we know it was Peter because the early church fathers told us so, and they don't lie". And 'the assistance of the Church', a euphemism for 'Well of course the church wrote it. If it wasn't Peter it had to be church'.
See the rest of 'coulda, shoulda, woulda" contrivance at this official CATHOLIC SITE.

Here is another SITE that tries the same spin but attempts to thwart Dr Erhman. In part it concocts this story:

"Maybe Peter was the only person of note who ever had secretarial help of this nature provided to him, but just because he might have been the only one to do it, just because Ehrman is not aware of an analogous situation, does that mean that Peter couldn't have done it?"

But here is the real kicker at the second site:
"But, of course, Peter could have gained such knowledge easily. Peter could have asked an Aramaic-speaking, highly literate "secretary" who was knowledgeable in the Greek Old Testament, and who also was familiar with "sophisticated forms of Greek argumentation and presentation," to read to him portions of the Greek Old Testament that the secretary knew would be theologically relevant to Peter, translating as he read, from the Greek to Aramaic, so Peter could understand."

Yep, the old "WOULDA, COULDA, SHOULDA" that under christian apologetics amounts to 'EVIDENCE'.

These are not atheist sites. These are the best of Apologetical sites. What do we have? the creation and embellishment of a context around which the writing of two pseudepigraphic letters of unknown writers, one of them by a highly sophisticated, urbane, highly literate and highly educated Greek, that 'assisted' an illiterate, uneducated fisherman, [an agrammatoi, a Greek work that literally means 'unlettered,' that is, 'illiterate'] that someone, anyone, might be suckered into believing.

BenYachov said...

So what you are saying Paps is that there was an anonymous forger who was knowledgable in Aramaic and the Greek OT but the idea of a Scribe to the Head of the Church on Earth with the same qualifications helping the first Pope out is just "Apologetics"?

Right sure pal.

Pius XII when he was a Cardinal wrote a few of the Pope's Encyclicals including WITH BURNING SORROW the Encyclical which condemned Nazi Racial beliefs.
Pius XI reviewed the letter and signed off on it & added what he thought should go in & changed what he didn't like.

The heads of groups have always had scribes and assistants. Some of the Apostles where educated like Paul.

So you are such a fundamentalist you believe Peter had to have written both letters by himself without any help otherwise they are not authentic?

That is just weird.

As B16 taught when he was a Cardinal authorship was a broad concept in the ancient world. As long as you originated the ideas and teachings in a written work you where the Author.

Catholic Tradition has never required Pope Peter write every word himself without help.

Also Scripture defined an Apostle as not just one of the Twelve but any contemporary male Christian who heard Jesus speak. Some Rabbis, scribes and Pharisees converted.

This is just Emo crap you are giving us. Not scholarship.

BenYachov said...

> letters of unknown writers, one of them by a highly sophisticated, urbane, highly literate and highly educated Greek, that 'assisted' an illiterate, uneducated fisherman, [an agrammatoi, a Greek work that literally means 'unlettered,' that is, 'illiterate'] that someone, anyone, might be suckered into believing.

One doesn't have to even believe in God to believe Peter is the author of both letters. I don't believe Muhammed(who was unlettered) or the Koran are anything special but I have little reason to doubt he recited his poetic musings on God & had some people write bits of it down. Kept the writings till Omar collected them & published the Koran. I certainly have no trouble believing 90% plus of the Koran came from him.

Rabbi Akiva didn't start his studies of the Torah till he was about 40 years old & after years of education he became an expert.

Peter was a fisherman but he became the leader of a religious sect supported by his followers. So how is it impossible he like Akiva had time to get some learning? My Father got his Masters in his 40's so I don't se why Peter couldn't have increased his learning or dictate his teachings to a trusted Scribe who helped him out?

This is just a weak case. One doesn't even have to believe in God to think that.

BenYachov said...

Ah Paps is citing CATHOLIC ANSWERS! That takes me back.

QUOTE"Sylvanus?

In the case of 1 Peter we even know who may have helped Peter in writing the letter, because toward the end of the epistle, he writes:

By [Greek, dia] Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God; stand fast in it [1 Pet. 5:12].

Silvanus (aka "Silas") was one of Paul's traveling companions who apparently was in Rome at the same time 1 Peter was being written.




Pope Benedict on the Role of Sylvanus

Pope Benedict picks up on this verse and explains:

There are two important positions: First, Peter himself—that is, the Letter—gives us a clue, for at the end of the writing he says I write to you: “By Silvanus... dia Silvanus”.

This “by” [dia] could mean various things.

It may mean that he [Silvanus] brings or transmits; it may mean that Silvanus helped him write it; it may mean that in practice it was really Silvanus who wrote it.

In any case, we may conclude that the Letter itself points out to us that Peter was not alone in writing this Letter but it expresses the faith of a Church, which is already on a journey of faith, a faith increasingly mature.

He does not write alone, as an isolated individual; he writes with the assistance of the Church, of people who help him to deepen the faith, to enter into the depths of his thought, of his rationality, of his profundity.

Pope Benedict thus identifies different possible roles that Sylvanis may have played regarding the epistle:

He may have been the messenger who carried it to its recipients.
He may have served as the secretary or editor of the letter who polished Peter's Greek for him.
He may have served as Peter's agent in writing the letter on his behalf.
Pope Benedict seems to gravitate toward the latter two possibilities. In any event, he concludes that Peter "does not write alone" in composing the epistle but "writes with the assistance of the Church."END QUOTE

Good stuff! It's perfectly reasonable.

Erhman & Paps are just giving us Atheist/Skeptics Apologetics. Both of them need Peter to not be the author otherwise their fragile will fall to pieces.

What stuff an nonsense. I see no reason why one couldn't deny God and still believe Peter wrote the letters?

BenYachov said...

Even Illiterate people can speak more than one language by being around it & learning it. If they couldn't then no trade in the ancient world. IT seems to me even illiterate persons could learn eloquent speech. I acquired the gift of gab at 12 with a C average & won 3 oratory awards in Jr High.

Erhman;s arguments are just weak one doesn't even have to believe in God to see that.

BenYachov said...

I'm loving the links given by Paps!


QUOTE"Even if it were true that the secretary composed the letter, Ehrman states that
" then the secretary rather than Peter would be the real author of the letter...."

Why would he not be the "real" author?END QUOTE

I guess because Ehrman is a fundamentalist when it come right down to it.

Papalinton said...

Read both articles. Not one skerrick of substantive evidence either in the articles or the subsequent Yachov comments.

Could have ....
Could have .....

Might have .....
Might have ....

May have ....
May have ....

Pope Benedict seems to gravitate towards..... You'll note; only second or third order level of circumstantial posturing at best, 'possibilities'. Not a mention of the probabilities, the basis on which historical research into evidence is properly determined.

Might have .... Could have .... May have .... indeed a myriad of obfuscatory opinions peppered right throughout the Apologetically-derived 'evidence'(?)

Yep, a big role for the COULDA, SHOULDA, WOULDA brigade.



B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

One can almost smell the desperation in Pap's latest postings here. He absolutely can not and will not admit to even the possibility that First and Second Peter are genuine. Were he to do so, he would run smack up against passages such as these:

"we were eyewitnesses"
"we heard this voice"
"we were with him"

Admitting the truth of these lines would be fatal to his house of cards he lives in, wherein the New Testament is something made up out of whole cloth centuries after the event, rather than trustworthy eyewitness accounts.

As for the Apostles using scribes to write for them - heck, even Paul does that. "I Tertius, the writer of this letter, greet you in the Lord." (Romans 16:22) In fact, Paul goes out of the way to tell the Galatians that for once he is the one doing the actual writing in that letter: "See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand." (Galatians 6:11) Given Paul's wretchedly poor eyesight, it was probably the one and only time he actually wrote one of his letters himself. (He had to use exceptionally large letters in order to see what he was writing.)

And I do need to remind folks of Pap's peculiar definition of apologetics: "that which he does not agree with". That way, he does not have to actually argue against something a person might say. All that is required is for him to wave his hands over it, pronounce the dreaded Word of Power "apologetics", and he's done!

B. Prokop said...

I think it’s time to review the bidding here. Let’s list the most often heard arguments against Petrine authorship of the two letters bearing his name:

1. The language is too polished to have been composed by a Galilean fisherman.

Response: So Peter is supposed to be incapable of learning anything in the 30+ years between his calling by Christ and the writing of these letters? Also, why is it so hard to conceive of the first pope having competent, educated secretaries (e.g., Silvanus) who could smooth off any rough edges present in Peter’s rough draft handed to him/them for copying and distribution?

2. The references to a corpus of Pauline letters.

Response: So what? In Paul’s letters themselves we read of instructions by the Apostle to preserve and further disseminate his letters among the churches. A “Collected Works of Paul would undoubtedly have been in existence long before either of the Petrine letters.

3. Allusions to apocryphal works, especially Enoch.

Response: Once again, so what? Jude makes a lengthy direct quotation from Enoch , and there are echoes of the work in Revelation. Enoch was evidently a much-read, much-discussed work in the 1st Century. (By the way, I’ve read it at least twice, and it is well worth the time spent. I recommend it to anyone seriously exploring the origins of the New Testament.)

4. The style of First Peter is quite different from Second Peter.

Response: Yes it is. But no more different than Eight Days a Week differs from A Day in the Life, or Rocky Raccoon, but no one disputes that all three songs are by the Beatles.

5. We don’t know who wrote the letters.

Response: This is the silliest objection of all. Peter identifies himself explicitly as the author of the two letters from the get-go. Silvanus is identified as the actual writer of the first letter (in the same manner that Romans was “written” by Tertius and not Paul.

To quote a certain frequent poster to this website: "POW! Shot down in flames."

im-skeptical said...

"Admitting the truth of these lines would be fatal to his house of cards he lives in, wherein the New Testament is something made up out of whole cloth centuries after the event, rather than trustworthy eyewitness accounts."


From the Book of Mormon:
"THE TESTIMONY OF THREE WITNESSES

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen. "

That proves it. Mormonism is the one true religion.

B. Prokop said...

Foolish, foolish, im-skeptical.

By your logic, since witness "A" is proven to be a liar, then all possible witnesses are liars, and none should ever be believed.

Pointing out the absurdity of Mormonism has no bearing on the veracity of the Apostolic Witness - none. Are you making an argument from surface similarity? (I'm sure there's a technical term for such among logicians, but at the moment I can't think of what it would be.) We're talking apples and bus stops here.

My argument was that Paps had no case to disprove the Apostolic authorship of the NT. However, a decisive case against the Mormons can be (and has been) made without even trying hard.

No comparison - no relevance.

So you can now join Paps in having been shot down in flames.

BenYachov said...

@im-skeptical

Your as stupid as Paps & half as educated. All three of those witnesses left the Mormon Church.

Did any of the Apostles leave? I missed that part.

What you couldn't come up with a more challenging
example? Just like you are too stupid to learn the difference between Science, Philosophy and metaphysics even after months of lying to us claiming you have done the reading?

What is the point of you Gnu?




BenYachov said...

Religious Fundamentalist are often justly accused of believing in "Cheap Grace". That is the idea because they believe on the superficial level they instantaneously become spiritually enlightened and experts on God, Theology, Philosophy, Science and Scripture. It's a sad & comical phenomena.

Gnu Atheist fundies are no better. They think & act as if mere denial of God or gods instantly translates into them being rational, scholarly, logical and well learned in Science.

The problem is regardless of what they believe you have to do your homework.

Tragically in society in general the stupid are becoming more numerous.

B. Prokop said...

Ben,

The second paragraph in your last posting is quite perceptive. Thank you for that!

im-skeptical said...

"Foolish, foolish, im-skeptical."

Sorry. I thought it was pretty good evidence. Direct eyewitnesses, and we know who they were - not just some anonymous people who claim to have seen something. But of course, they're not witnesses for what you believe.

im-skeptical said...

"Gnu Atheist fundies are no better. They think & act as if mere denial of God or gods instantly translates into them being rational, scholarly, logical and well learned in Science."

By the way, Ben. Nobody is more of a fundamentalist than you. The stars in your eyes are so big, not even a glimmer of light can get in around them.

B. Prokop said...

"Direct eyewitnesses"

No, they're liars - huge difference. Like I said (it seems I must always repeat myself with you - now why is that?), by your "logic", no eyewitness can be trusted because we have here a case of someone falsely claiming to be one.

Heck, there were false eyewitnesses at the trial of Jesus!
"For many bore false witness against him." (Mark 14:56)
"Many false witnesses came forward." (Matthew 26:60)

im-skeptical said...

As for your questions about my knowledge of science, I'm sure there are many people who would put me to shame, but it happens that I do have a pretty good foundation. Here's a suggestion for you: out of all the claims I have made about scientific fact, go through them and pick out the ones that are wrong. You can get an expert like Crude to help you out. Not speculations, mind you (because I have done that on occasion). See how pedantic I have been in scientific matters over the course of time in this forum. Then you can prove to everyone that I don't really know what I claim to. You won't have to keep asking "does he really know anything about science? - Gee, I don't think so."

im-skeptical said...

"They're liars."

I'm sure people like you believe that to be the case. Here's a little history from Wikipedia:

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

Of particular interest is the last paragraph in each of the three sections about the individual witnesses.

B. Prokop said...

"I'm sure people like you believe that to be the case."

Do you believe they were telling the truth? If not, then why are you giving me a hard time for disbelieving them?

Unless you actually regard them as credible eyewitnesses, they have no bearing on the discussion at hand, and are in fact a classic example of the red herring fallacy.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

"Do you believe they were telling the truth? If not, then why are you giving me a hard time for disbelieving them?"

What I believe is that those witnesses make a stronger case than any you can claim for the New Testament. The reason is that there is much better documentation for them than there is for NT. Compare their statements to the stories about witnesses to the resurrection. We don't know who wrote the gospels in the first place. It's pretty clear that they were not written by people who were there. And they say things like "a bunch of guys saw it". This is what you find compelling?

If I had to pick between the two, I'd pick the three witnesses.

B. Prokop said...

"We don't know who wrote the Gospels in the first place."

Yes, we do. They were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I have never seen the least bit of evidence even remotely credible to either disprove or even to cast doubt on that statement. Kindly show me some.

"It's pretty clear that they were not written by people who were there."

I beg to differ. John, for instance, even goes out of his way to write (speaking of himself), "He who saw it has borne witness." And again he writes, "This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things." Or this, "[That] which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, ... we saw it, and testify to it."

And Peter (admittedly not a Gospel writer), writes: "We were eyewitnesses."

So how in the world is it "pretty clear" that they were written by people who weren't there? The only thing that is "pretty clear" is that you have no idea what you are talking about.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

"The only thing that is "pretty clear" is that you have no idea what you are talking about."

While you apparently restrict your reading to Christian historians and apologists, I don't.

This is from wiki:
"The majority view today is that Mark is the first gospel, with Matthew and Luke borrowing passages both from that gospel and from at least one other common source, lost to history, termed by scholars 'Q' (from German: Quelle, meaning "source"). This view is known as the "two-source hypothesis".[26] The two-gospel hypothesis, in contrast, says that Matthew was written first (by Matthew the Apostle), and then Luke the Evangelist wrote his gospel (using Matthew as his main source) before Mark the Evangelist wrote his gospel (using Peter's testimony). John was written last and shares little with the synoptic gospels.

The gospels were apparently composed in stages. Mark's traditional ending (Mark 16:9–20, see Mark 16) was most likely composed early in the 2nd century and appended to Mark in the middle of that century.[27] The birth and infancy narratives apparently developed late in the tradition.[28] Luke and Matthew may have originally appeared without their first two chapters.[28]

The consensus among biblical scholars is that all four canonical gospels were originally written in Greek, the lingua franca of the Roman Orient.[29][30][31][32][33]"

B. Prokop said...

I love how people who refer to themselves as "skeptical" can without the least sense of irony confidently affirm the existence of a manuscript ("Q") which no one has ever seen (or even claims to have seen), to which we have no contemporary reference whatsoever, for which we have zero physical evidence, of which not one even fragmentary copy exists - not so much as a single line, which wasn't even dreamed of until many centuries after it was supposedly written... yet can't bring themselves to even give credence the simplest and most probable explanation of all for the origin of the gospels, i.e., that they were indeed written by the people universally acknowledged to be their authors. Ever hear of Occam's Razor?

Go ahead, "im-skeptical". Keep on providing that evidence that your self-styled moniker is a giant joke. You are forever unskeptically swallowing whatever it takes to maintain your dream world.

You claim to be so skeptical. Go on then, show me the unquestionable evidence for this "Q" you are so certain existed. Or are you now no better than Papalinton, who apparently regards Wikipedia as the Fountain of All Truth?

BenYachov said...

Of course the whole problem with the "Q" theory is a) there is no patristic reference to such a document & b) no fragment of it has ever been dug up.

It's an anachronism.

The theory is not per-say against the faith if anything it is useful & not improbable there would be a common rough draft set of notes the Apostles kept & used over the years which might have served as a common source for all the Gospels or at least the first three.

But then again only brain dead philosophically & scientifically illiterate Gnu Atheist fundies whose sole concept of biblical orthodoxy is the KJV Only fundamentalism they grew up with & rejected could think otherwise.

im-skeptical said...

"Go ahead, "im-skeptical". Keep on providing that evidence that your self-styled moniker is a giant joke. You are forever unskeptically swallowing whatever it takes to maintain your dream world."

Your indignation is noted. Nevertheless, that seems to be the majority view among biblical scholars.

B. Prokop said...

Ben,

I'm of course not saying that there wasn't a common pool of eyewitness testimony from which the evangelists drew. But that is precisely what the likes of "im-skeptical" don't want to acknowledge. No-o-o-o... They, who cannot bring themselves to even admit the possibility that, when something says it was written by (let's say) Peter, that it might have actually been written by Peter, can with no effort at all dream up out of whole cloth an imaginary document and insist that it must have existed! Despite the complete and total absence of any evidence whatsoever.

I know I've said this before, but gimme a break! I'm beginning to see why a certain contributor to this website is always accusing these guys of "intellectual dishonesty".

BenYachov said...

>The consensus among biblical scholars is that all four canonical gospels were originally written in Greek, the lingua franca of the Roman Orient.[29][30][31][32][33]"

That is an open question. I think the case for a Hebrew origin of Matt or at least a Hebrew Proto Gospel is strong.

http://www.amazon.com/Hebrew-Gospel-Development-Synoptic-Tradition/dp/0802862349


http://www.amazon.com/THE-HEBREW-GOSPEL-OF-MATTHEW/dp/0865549893/ref=pd_sim_b_4

http://www.amazon.com/Jewish-Targums-Johns-Logos-Theology/dp/0801047595/ref=pd_sim_b_9

>Your indignation is noted.

Indignation? I just said it wasn't per-say against the Faith.

BenYachov said...

Oh yes he was talking to Bob there.

My bad.

Papalinton said...

"I beg to differ. John, for instance, even goes out of his way to write (speaking of himself), "He who saw it has borne witness." And again he writes, "This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things." Or this, "[That] which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, ... we saw it, and testify to it.""

Bob, if I wanted to confirm what Harry Potter said of himself I too would refer to the Harry Potter books. After all, who knows better about Harry Potter than Harry Potter himself?

Quoting someone about oneself in one's own book, a book I might add that is pseudonymous, is not evidence. One needs corroborative evidence. John of the Book of Revelations is not one of Jesus's Apostles or Disciples.

"John Patmos' Jesus is that of the Old Testament God, holding grudges, ruling with an "iron rod," judging our works, and viciously punishing. His is not the loving Abba Heavenly Father of Apostle John's Jesus.
Obviously John Patmos is a saved Christian. That is why he can say some nice things about Jesus. Equally obvious is he is not the Apostle John, but a converted Jew who still thinks in Old Testament images."
See this CHRISTIAN SITE. A Christian site, mind you.

What we do have a fairly good idea about The Book of Revelation is that it was a polemic written by Jews who were badly affected by Roman occupation and the ".. oppression suffered at the hands of foreign conquerors led Jews and, later, Christians to identify particular political figures with "the Beast." Candidates included Antiochus Epiphanes, Caligula, Nero, and Domitian." See HERE.

BenYachov said...

The Markian Primacy is the majority view vs the two Gospel hypothesis(Matt was first then Luke used Matt as a source & Mark came later) which according to the same almighty wiki is a "serious alternative" but the later does seem to have the advantage of patristic testimony specifically St. Irenaeus who puts Matt first Luke second then Mark third.

I know individual Coptic Christians who like the Markian Primacy if only because Mark Evangelized Egypt even though Coptic Tradition to my knowledge agrees with the other Churches that Matt was first.

>Mark's traditional ending (Mark 16:9–20, see Mark 16) was most likely composed early in the 2nd century and appended to Mark in the middle of that century.[27]

Of course the shorter Ending still testifies to the Empty Tomb, Visitation of an Angel to the witnesses that tells them Jesus has risen & will appear before the brethren & has Jesus sending them out to preach Salvation to the world.

Wallace's theories on why the longer end was omitted are genius. Thanks again Paps!

BenYachov said...

>Obviously John Patmos is a saved Christian. That is why he can say some nice things about Jesus. Equally obvious is he is not the Apostle John, but a converted Jew who still thinks in Old Testament images." See this CHRISTIAN SITE. A Christian site, mind you.

So you cite some fringe Protestant who graduated from a Liberal Methodist seminary & think this will somehow move two Catholics you are arguing with?

Seriously Paps do something else with your time before you hurt yourself.

BenYachov said...

>What we do have a fairly good idea about The Book of Revelation is that it was a polemic written by Jews who were badly affected by Roman occupation and the ".. oppression suffered at the hands of foreign conquerors led Jews and, later, Christians to identify particular political figures with "the Beast." Candidates included Antiochus Epiphanes, Caligula, Nero, and Domitian." See HERE.

EXCELLENT PAPS! Now you are back in your fringe element. You went from at least a more balanced respectable skeptical scholar like Ehrman back to a hardcore fringe Jesus Myther namely Robert Price!

Any port in a storm eh?

BenYachov said...

Ah Jesus Mythers! One Atheist critic on the Net(I think it was Tim O'neil) called them the young Earth Creationists of Atheism.

Gee Paps after reading Price maybe we could all read THE BIBLICAL FLOOD AND THE ICE EPOCH!

It's more your speed and level of learning.

Papalinton said...

It was only a matter of time before the harmonizing, syncretization and homogenizing of fundamentally disparate, inconsistent and conflicting reports that constitute the christian fable, along with the long-held practice of Apologetics attempting to ameliorate the massive level of cognitive dissonance inherent in such deep flaws in the story, begins to unravel.

The non-ideological inspired Biblical scholars are now setting the record straight. No longer will the traditional POV of Apologetics remain unchallenged and unquestioned. Research by Biblical scholars without an Apologetics barrow to push are rewriting the Biblical account along genuine historically verifiable evidence. The historical account according to probability is replacing the reliance on possibility and opinion as the basis for 'evidence'.

Much of the change to a probabilistic historical account of the Christian phenomenon from its conventional apologetical rule-based account, is yet to unfold.

B. Prokop said...

You know, I've been reading over this thread so far, and what strikes me most is, "Who cares?" Would my faith be the tiniest bit different if the Gospels were written by Fred, Bill, Larry, and Bob? I don't think so. The Gospels and the Sacraments are our chief means of coming face-to-face with the Person of Jesus. After all, the Word of God is primarily Jesus, and only secondarily the scriptures.

The Christian faith drinks deeply from the rich well of scripture, but it is not dependent on it (sorry, Protestants). We are not Muslims, who venerate The Koran as the literal word of Allah, with Mohammed being merely a scribe writing down what he hears. Such an attitude to the New Testament is alien to Christianity (or, at least, to Catholicism). We revel in the fact that its composition is admittedly a mess. It's supposed to be. We're not to make an idol of the Bible, but rather to learn from it.

None of this changes what I've already written here. I've never seen anything other than pronouncements void of the slightest proof that the books of the NT were either anonymous or written by someone other than the names at the tops of the pages. I see no reason whatsoever to blindly rush after the latest fad or scholarly whim. These academics have a motivation, after all, in coming up with novel theories every decade or so. How else to get recognized? Who's going to get famous or respected in academia by saying, "Uh, we haven't really learned anything new about New Testament authorship in the last millennium so so"?

So I am not the least bit uncomfortable in confidently affirming the apostolic authorship of each and every word of the New Testament, knowing that the weight of evidence solidly backs me up, and always has. But in any case, what's important is not who wrote it, but what is says, and Who it's about.

And I honestly think that's the biggest explanation behind all this rabidly determined effort to disparage the NT - some people are just plain afraid of meeting That Person. (At least this is quite probably the case for "im-skeptical". I still suspect that what Paplinton needs at this point is an exorcist.)

im-skeptical said...

"people are just plain afraid of meeting That Person. (At least this is quite probably the case for "im-skeptical""

So your opinion of me is something like this:

I really believe there is a god, but I'm afraid of him (perhaps because I'm a sinner and I don't want to face divine punishment). So if I pretend that he doesn't exist I can be like the ostrich with its head in the sand, ignoring the thing I'm afraid of. Which is pretty stupid.

Meanwhile you believe the story of the resurrection, and need to see some evidence before you will consider that it might not be true. Which is pretty smart, because you know, to believe something without evidence is stupid.

Let me ask you a question. Have I worn out my welcome here? Is it no longer to have a reasoned discussion (with me)? Was it ever?

im-skeptical said...

No longer possible, that is.

B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

Oh, no! You're always welcome. Have I ever told you to go away? It's not even my website - you'd have to get Victor to kick you out, and he almost never does that. He even allows Ilion to stick around.

But (and please try not to feign all sorts of injured pride here), you have yet to even begin a reasoned discussion on this website - on any of the threads you've participated in that I've followed. All you ever do is erect steel walls around your increasingly crumbling worldview. You may succeed in (temporarily) propping it up, but it's still rotting away at the core.

Please don't end up like that pathetic old wheeze-bag of Papalinton, forever predicting a supposed bright future "just around the corner", in which everyone who doesn't think like him will have been eliminated, and all knowledge comes from Wikipedia. Just what is it that you're so afraid of? Do you think people will think less of you if you don't march to the flashy atheist bandwagon, where everyone can pat each other on the back about how wise and rational they are? Are you worried about being "out of step with the times"? Are you worried that someone might confuse you with a YEC yahoo? Paugh! Try manning up to some real convictions, instead of just parroting what the latest gnu idol tells all of you to think.

Try turning off your computer for 40 days, like I do once per year, and get deep into some genuine wisdom, such as The Divine Comedy (I suggest the Dorothy Sayers translation) or Lewis's Space Trilogy, or even The Figure of Beatrice by Charles Williams, without any distractions. You'd be amazed at how clear you head gets!

I know you're looking for some way out of the trap you've erected for yourself. Why else do you keep coming to Dangerous Idea. Shoot, you don't see me hanging around Loftus's Debunking site!

BenYachov said...

Paps' last post reads like one of those computer generated essays.

Hal said...

Bob,
"I know you're looking for some way out of the trap you've erected for yourself. Why else do you keep coming to Dangerous Idea."

I can't speak for anyone else, but I mainly hang around here because of this "Dangerous Idea" that is supposed to show natualism is false. Somebody has to counter that argument. Though, to be honest, am not sure I'm going to be spending much more time here at least for the near future. Too many other pressing issues in my life. Am still trying to learn enough Greek to read Homer, for one. I'd like to be able to read the Iliad through at least once before I exit this stage.

Other religious sites that are involved in promoting their religion I never bother to post on or even bother going to for that matter. I'm not interested in trying to persuade others to abandon their religion.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

Why do I come here? I want to learn about what others believe and why. I want to be exposed to the theories and rationale that might have an influence on my own thinking. I want to test my own beliefs against the arguments of others. I like to engage and debate, but I'm afraid I haven't been very successful at making good arguments. Don't imagine that I'm looking for a reason to believe in god, like ingx24. I have good reason already for what I believe.

B. Prokop said...

"Am still trying to learn enough Greek"

... and I, enough Latin. Cum mens suam impotentiam imaginatur, eo ipso contristatur.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BenYachov said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BenYachov said...

>Let me ask you a question. Have I worn out my welcome here? Is it no longer to have a reasoned discussion (with me)? Was it ever?

After putting on a facade of earnestness & saying you would do the proper reading and after having it explained to you many times by your betters you still say really really really stupid shit like this…….

Today's physics is drastically different from the metaphysics of Thomists".

You haven't even learned the elementary distinctions between Philosophy, metaphysics & Science much less Thomism!
Have you warn out your welcome? You tell me? If a Creationist came to an Evolution blog & kept repeating "Evolution can't be true because the second law of thermal dynamics says everything is in entropy but evolution says everything gets better etc" & people patently explained over an over you can't treat a Law of Physics like a general metaphysical principle(opposite of what you do too the Principle of Motion) & entropy just means a closed system will in time run out of energy. Our Sun keeps renewing the energy on Earth that is needed for life and thus life can thrive & via natural forces change.

But of course no matter how many times it is explained to him that this is wrong he keeps on insisting this is a valid argument and a valid reason to doubt evolution. After a year of this do you think the other evolutionists will welcome his tripe?

I don't run this blog do what you like but as far as I am concerned you are just Paps.

Papalinton said...

" "Who cares?" Would my faith be the tiniest bit different if the Gospels were written by Fred, Bill, Larry, and Bob? I don't think so. The Gospels and the Sacraments are our chief means of coming face-to-face with the Person of Jesus."

Spoken like a true believer. Spoken with the exact same heart-felt truth, conviction and determination of any Scientologist or Mormon protecting their patch of superstition. Longevity of cultural tradition is not a criterion for fact, proofs or evidence; it is social convenience that determines what is ruled in or what's out of favour. Religion used to be useful and was once dominant in the community. It is becoming less so. On balance, it seems the negatives of religion now pretty much outweigh the benefits and this is being reflected in the increasingly lowering take-up rate of religion into people's lives. Christianity, once the predominant explanatory tool about us and our relationships, about society, about the world, about the universe, indeed even about gods, is being superseded by a highly sophisticated and exponentially more powerful explanatory mechanism, based on a surer empirical and evidential footing that is not afraid to say "I don't know", if indeed that is the honest answer. Contrast that to an appeal to the supernatural, or the 'mysteries of life' or 'God's mysterious ways'.

And 'truth' in a religious context is a highly open-ended concept as flexible and as shape-shifting as one would wish it to be. It is a word that is as loose as its use.

Bob notes: 'Please don't end up like that pathetic old wheeze-bag of Papalinton, forever predicting a supposed bright future "just around the corner", ..."
Bob forgets that I was a member of the Jesus brigade for some 30 years of my life. My conscious and deliberative change from theist to atheist was not a rejection of Christianity or of God that the faithful on this site have claimed repeatedly. Far from it. Evidentially, there was nothing to reject because there was nothing there to reject in the first instance. [Don't you just love that sentence?]

The 'pathetic old wheeze-bag' is a characterization of someone who cares about the evidence, sufficient to prosecute the case rigorously that believers do not want to engage in. As Bob has admitted no matter the mountain of evidence against the superstitious fable he grimly holds to, " Who cares?" Would my faith be the tiniest bit different if the Gospels were written by Fred, Bill, Larry, and Bob? I don't think so." By that statement alone, the persistence of this old wheeze-bag has encouraged Bob to state that his Christianity, by virtue of tradition alone is solely a belief in belief.

On the one hand, Bob notes,"The Christian faith drinks deeply from the rich well of scripture, but it is not dependent on it (sorry, Protestants). . Then he countermands that non-dependency, "The Gospels and the Sacraments are our chief means of coming face-to-face with the Person of Jesus."

Methinks a little bit of the old switcheroo is being played here.

im-skeptical said...

Ben,

"after having it explained to you many times by your betters you still say really really really stupid shit like this……."

I have read Oderberg the Thomist, and he says that metaphysics should be in harmony with physics, and others do as well. So why you should think that's so stupid is a mystery to me. But I really think you should venture outside the narrow bounds of your philosophical cult. There's so much more that you could learn and experience. It would do you good.

BenYachov said...

@im-skeptical

>I have read Oderberg the Thomist, and he says that metaphysics should be in harmony with physics, and others do as well.

Well first of all Oderberg is more of an Essentialist Aristotelian than a Thomist.

Second where did he say that? What is the exact quote?

Because I can say Philosophy of Physics is in harmony with the Science of Physics in the same way I can say the Science of Biology is in harmony with Physics in the sense there is nothing in either discipline that should be in conflict and both give a harmonious picture of reality.

Obviously metaphysics is in harmony with physics since we could use metaphysics to model physics but that is not the same as claiming they are identical or that certain metaphysical concepts(Act/Potency) are nothing more then laws of physics like Newton's laws of motion.

I said earlier when you where making your daft statements on Act & Potency equating it with physics that Aristotle's Metaphysics can be used to model both the old false anachronistic Greek folk physics as well as Newton.

I also said the metaphysics of Parmenides could be used to model either as well & in fact some Theoretical Physicists used Him to model their theories that Time is unreal. All one has to do is throw out Realism.

Your earlier statements about act & potency & your subsequent statements about Physics and Metaphysics clearly show you equate them not merely harmonize them as two different categories of study.

>So why you should think that's so stupid is a mystery to me.

Saying Metaphysics is in harmony with Physics is about as remarkable as saying it is in harmony with biology but that is because metaphysics and philosophy can be used to model either science as Oderberg does with biology and the metaphysical concept of essences in REAL ESSENTALISM Chapter 9.

You really can't fake it with me buddy. You don't know enough & you refuse to learn.

>But I really think you should venture outside the narrow bounds of your philosophical cult. There's so much more that you could learn and experience. It would do you good.

That is ironic come from someone who is not at all familiar with philosophy & has refused to learn and knows only science alone (& I am being overly kind since grod thinks you are clueless there as well).

BenYachov said...

"Today's physics is drastically different from the metaphysics of Thomists".


Like saying "Today's Quantum Mechanics is drastically different from the ethics of Dun Scotus".

Or

"Today's Chemistry is drastically different than the psychoanalysis of Freud".

Fucking gibberish!

grodrigues said...

@BenYachov:

"I am being overly kind since grod thinks you are clueless there as well"

I think he is clueless precisely because of the elementary philosophical mistakes. He may "know" physics, or chemistry, or whatever -- I have neither a reason to say he does nor a reason to say he does not -- but when one fails to make some elementary philosophical distinctions, or does not know the proper bounds of what the empirical sciences can achieve, it is perfectly legitimate to wonder if he really understands it. It seems to me that if you are going to fill your mouth with Science and proclaim to the seven winds your undying love for the Lady, you should at least understand these things.

But make no mistake; my opinion is quite irrelevant (after all, what do I know? Who cares anyway?) and absolutely nothing hinges on it. Im-skeptical's arguments, if he has any, stand independently of it, and this little rant is just an aside, a sort of post-facto illustration of E. Feser's recent post on the ad hominem fallacy.

im-skeptical said...

Ben,

I never said that physics is identical to metaphysics. I'm trying to make a point that is evidently lost on you. Not all metaphysics is Thomist metaphysics. I said you should expand your own horizon, because I think you really don't understand a lot of things outside the ancient Thomist view of things. Other metaphysical views are indeed more representative of the reality of our world.

Here's an example: http://www.megafoundation.org/CTMU/Articles/Supernova.html

The whole Aristotelian bit with its act and potency, its essentialism, etc, just doesn't work as a way of understanding our world. It is completely out of touch with science, and therefore, not in harmony with modern ways of thinking. It needs to be refreshed with an injection of scientific thinking from the past few centuries, or it will remain forever an anachronism.

BenYachov said...

@im-skeptical

>I never said that physics is identical to metaphysics.


>The whole Aristotelian bit with its act and potency, its essentialism, etc, just doesn't work as a way of understanding our world. It is completely out of touch with science....It needs to be refreshed with an injection of scientific thinking from the past few centuries,

I reply: You just contradicted yourself in the same post & I don't even have to go back to your earlier post where you said Act/Potency where part of physics(equivocating between the scientific disciple vs Aristolte's book).

The above is no different then saying "Scotus' views on ethics just doesn't work as a way of understanding our world. It is completely out of touch with Quantum Mechanics".

Let's face it Im-Skeptical you are too stupid at this point to tie your own shoes.

>Other metaphysical views are indeed more representative of the reality of our world.

>Here's an example: http://www.megafoundation.org/CTMU/Articles/Supernova.html

Yes skimming that article the author is referencing modern Philosophy & Cartusianism & using that to model his physics which looks interesting and it would have been appropriate to try to try to argue philosophically why the Cartusian metaphysics is still valid and Aristotle's is not but you didn't put forth any philosophical arguments you keep repeating your looney mantra "It contradicts Science!" & making the same catagory mistake over and over.

I've corrected you, grod and Doug have pointed out this persistant catagory mistake but you are hell bent on playing the Creationist who keeps bring up the proverbial 2nd Law of Thermal Dynamics.

In no concievable rational universe(Theist, Atheist or Materialist etc) is it possible to refute any metaphysics with any science anymore then it is possible to measure the atomic weight of natural selection.

You are an idiot im-skeptical and I wash my hands of you.

Martin said...

im-skeptical

>The whole Aristotelian bit with its act and potency, its essentialism, etc, just doesn't work as a way of understanding our world. It is completely out of touch with science

In fact, it could be argued just the opposite.

Do you agree that you are at your computer right now, and that in the future you could walk away from it and to the kitchen? If so, then you are using the concepts of act and potency without actually naming them.

Science does an experiment on something to see what happens. So that means that the experiment starts out one way (actual) and becomes another way (potential becomes actual). Science seems to actually presuppose act and potency.

im-skeptical said...

Ben,

"You are an idiot im-skeptical and I wash my hands of you."

Good, by all means, don't listen to my ranting - and I don't have to keep listening to your ranting?

grodrigues said...

@BenYachov:

"Yes skimming that article the author"

How thorough was your reading of the article? My suspicion is that im-skeptical grabbed the first article mentioned by Google search, without actually bothering to read it, and thinks that the mere mention of modern physics suffices to give it credibility; maybe he thinks Deepak Chopra is also a great philosopher. I will leave to you to make an informed judgment, I will note however the following 5 points.

(1) What does the author understand by Metaphysics? Several quotes could be produced, one must suffice:

"The effect of this requirement is to blur the distinction between physics, which purports to limit itself to the standard universe of measurable distances, and metaphysics, which can describe the standard universe as embedded in a higher-dimensional space or a nonstandard universe containing infinitesimals."

IOW, it has nothing to do with Metaphysics either in the Aristotelean sense, or in the general, modern philosophical sense.

(2) Let us listen the author himself telling us what his theory accomplished. In the fifth paragraph:

"And while neither GR nor QM does anything to resolve the fatal paradoxes of ex nihilo creation and quantum nonlocality, the CTMU dissolves such paradoxes with a degree of logical rectitude to which science seldom aspires."

Im-skeptical should definitely spread the gospel to scientists, as last time I checked they had not heard of the Good News that CTMU "dissolves such paradoxes with a degree of logical rectitude to which science seldom aspires". A little bit latter:

"But while each of these theories contains a part of the truth, none contains the whole truth. Only recently have the parts been assembled in light of modern logic and science to create a dynamic, comprehensive theory of reality that solves the mind-body problem for good."

Ok, amend my previous advice. He should *also* relay the Good News to philosophers of the mind, as CTMU, besides "dissolving" the "fatal paradoxes" of creation ex-nihilo and quantum non-locality, *also* solves the mind-body problem. For good.

grodrigues said...

@BenYachov (continued):

(3) As for mistakes, how about:

"Since GR, like classical mechanics, treats these line elements as objects to be used in forming ratios and tensors, it requires an "object-oriented" (as opposed to a Weierstrass-style procedural) definition of infinitesimals. But such a definition requires a nonstandard universe on model-theoretic grounds. So GR depends on a nonstandard universe as much as its predecessors, and is not as self-contained as the concept of intrinsic curvature might lead one to expect."

Rubbish. Classical mechanics or GR can be, and were, and are formulated, in perfectly conventional standard mathematics. If the author does not know how the tangent space to a manifold is constructed, just consult any book on modern differential geometry. And:

"Cauchy and Weierstrass tried to resolve this paradox with the concept of "limits"; they failed. This led to the discovery of nonstandard analysis by Abraham Robinson."

Im-skeptical should also inform mathematicians of this, as the community at large has still not realized that Cauchy and Weierstrass "epsilontics" (my term) has failed, as it is regularly taught at basically every university where there is a mathematics department.

(4) Let us list one opinion of the author about physics and his relation to metaphysics -- but note point (1):

"Alas, the truth is somewhat worse. Although physics has reached the point at which it can no longer credibly deny the importance of metaphysical criteria, it resists further metaphysical extension. Instead of acknowledging and dealing straightforwardly with its metaphysical dimension, it mislabels metaphysical issues as “scientific” issues and festoons them with increasingly arcane kinds of mathematics that hide its confusion regarding the underlying logic. Like a social climber determined to conceal her bohemian roots, it pretends that it is still dealing directly with observable reality instead of brachiating up vertiginous rationalistic tightropes towards abstractions that, while sometimes indirectly confirmed, are no more directly observable than fairies and unicorns. And as science willfully distracts itself from the urgent metaphysical questions it most needs to answer, philosophy ignores its parental responsibility."

Scientists concerning themselves with abstractions that "are no more directly observable than fairies and unicorns"? My, oh my, where have we heard this before.

(5) And to close matters, a little bit about CTMU itself:

"To fill this gap, the CTMU Metaphysical Autology Principle or MAP states that because reality is an all-inclusive relation bound by a universal quantifier whose scope is unlimited up to relevance, there is nothing external to reality with sufficient relevance to have formed it; hence, the real universe must be self-configuring. And the Mind-Equals-Reality (M=R) Principle says that because the universe alone can provide the plan or syntax of its own self-creation, it is an "infocognitive" entity loosely analogous to a theorist in the process of introspective analysis."

In other words, a version of idealism, with mind pervading the very fabric of the universe? And all this time, we figured out im-skeptical as a hard-core naturalist...

As you can see, Ben, you have a parochial narrow view; you and I both, are in the grip of a philosophical cult. If only we were as wise as im-skeptical and embrace other metaphysical views that "are indeed more representative of the reality of our world"...

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

"Do you agree that you are at your computer right now, and that in the future you could walk away from it and to the kitchen? If so, then you are using the concepts of act and potency without actually naming them."

You could say that. Or you could look at it a completely different way, without act and potency ever entering into the picture, because it's not necessary. It's not that I don't get the Aristotelian ideas about motion, or that I don't see how they could apply to all kinds of things. It's just that there are superior ways of understanding those things. To say that science presupposes an Aristotelian model is really a stretch, given that modern metaphysics generally does not include those concepts, nor is modern science in any way based on them.

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

>Or you could look at it a completely different way, without act and potency ever entering into the picture

I'm sure you will be explaining this different way of understanding change?

>modern science in any way based on them

It surely is, and I just explained how: an experiment starts one way, and ends another way. The scientist then examines the results. So the experiment is one way but possibly a different way.

Act and potency. In fact, you couldn't live life without these concepts, whether you consciously think about them or not. I'm sure when you go to bed tonight, you will be laying there believing that you are not now asleep, but soon will be. Actually awake, potentially asleep.

im-skeptical said...

grodrigues,

Could you just once try to listen and understand the point I am trying to make? Go ahead and shoot down the views expressed in that paper all you like. I don't care. I never said it represented my views. I was trying to make a point about metaphysics in general. But both you and Ben are so bent on discrediting everything I say, you don't take the time to understand it first. That is sheer arrogance.

I know I've upset your little applecart by saying Thomist philosophy has no value. That's too bad. Try refuting the argument I'm making instead of some strawman. Why don't you explain to me how those Aristotelian concepts are relevant in modern science?

im-skeptical said...

Martin.

"Act and potency. In fact, you couldn't live life without these concepts, whether you consciously think about them or not. I'm sure when you go to bed tonight, you will be laying there believing that you are not now asleep, but soon will be. Actually awake, potentially asleep."

Sorry. That may be relevant to you, but it plays no role in my life.

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

>Sorry. That may be relevant to you, but it plays no role in my life.

So you never think "I wonder what I should eat for dinner later tonight?", implicitly assuming that you are A) not currently eating, but B) will be.

You never think "What should I do this weekend?" implicitly assuming that it is A) not the weekend now, but B) soon will be.

You never think "I'm sleepy today; I can't wait to go to bed" implicitly assuming that A) you are not asleep now, but B) will be later on.

You never think "Damn, there is a rock in my shoe; I need to take off my shoe and get it out" implicitly assuming that A) your shoe is on your foot right now, but B) soon will be removed.

You never think "Gee, Martin is wrong about Aristotle; I need to make a reply to him" implicitly assuming that A) you have not added your comment to blogger yet, but B) soon will be.

??????

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

You just gave five examples of a person having conscious intent to do something and then acting upon that intent. So what?

Martin said...

>You just gave five examples of a person having conscious intent to do something and then acting upon that intent. So what?

It shows that act and potency do, in fact, match up with the real world, contrary to your earlier assertion. Your shoe is actually on your foot right now, but it is potentially removed. Then, when you remove it, the potentiality becomes actuality.

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

"It shows that act and potency do, in fact, match up with the real world, contrary to your earlier assertion."

No, that was not my assertion. My assertion was that they are not relevant in understanding our world and how things work.

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

>My assertion was that they are not relevant in understanding our world and how things work.

That's correct, because it is an example of philosophy of nature vs science.

Philosophy of nature asks: what would have to be true of any world that can be discovered scientifically, regardless of what the specific empirically facts of that world turn out to be?

Science asks: What are the specific facts of this world that we live in?

Philosophy of nature is just asking a completely different question. One of which says that for a world to be scientifically examinable, things must change: experiments must be doable, reasoning from premises to conclusion must be possible, etc.

So any world that is scientifically discoverable must have change occurring.

It just operates at a different level than science because it asks a different question.

im-skeptical said...

"So any world that is scientifically discoverable must have change occurring."

Great. I don't dispute that. But there are many different philosophies of nature.

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

>Great. I don't dispute that. But there are many different philosophies of nature.

So you keep saying. And have yet to produce another example. I can do so for you: Parmenides. Parmenides said that "being is, and non-being is not". For change to occur, something would have to come from nothing. Socrates cannot play the piano (the property of being able to play the piano does not exist in him), and so if he acquires that ability then it came from where it didn't exist. But something cannot come from nothing.

Therefore, change does not occur.

Of course, this is logically incoherent because at the very least change occurs in your conscious experience, and as long as you are not a dualist and hence believe that consciousness is a part of nature, then you would have to say that change does not occur (because of Parmenides' argument) and does occur (at least on the level of consciousness, which is a part of nature). This is logically incoherent.

Thus, Parmenides' alternative philosophy of nature is logically refuted, and Aristotle's is correct: act/potency, etc.

im-skeptical said...

"Thus, Parmenides' alternative philosophy of nature is logically refuted, and Aristotle's is correct: act/potency, etc."

non sequitur.

ingx24 said...

I think the line between physics and metaphysics is a bit blurrier than you guys think.

Very general concepts like act and potency can be properly placed under the label of metaphysics - they apply regardless of what they are describing, whether it is the physical world or some other world with completely different laws. No matter what science discovers, you can't deny that things change, and act and potency still remain relevant.

But then you have things like formal and final causes, which are clearly claims about how the world works and seem to be made nearly useless by modern physics. If Aristotelian metaphysics claims that objects are irreducible wholes that behave the way they do because of objective "goals", then it seems to make nonsense of the idea of understanding how things work based on the operations of their parts due to mathematical laws. In other words: If the reason an object behaves the way it does is because of an objective "goal" it has because of the kind of thing it is, then it does not behave the way it does because of mathematical laws governing its parts. It seems impossible to have it both ways - if the way something behaves can be described exhaustively in terms of the operations of its parts based on the laws of physics, then there seems to be no need to invoke final causes to explain why it does what it does.

To see this, take the example of a match being struck to cause fire (an example I'm fairly certain I took from Ed Feser). The Aristotelian wants to say that, unless we say that it is the natural "goal" of a match to cause fire, there is no way to make it intelligible why striking a match causes fire rather than something else or nothing at all. The problem is that the Aristotelian is looking for an explanation at the wrong level of analysis. Today, we can tell a story of laws of thermodynamics, chemical reactions in the air molecules, the internal makeup of wood, etc. to explain why lighting a match causes fire. The Aristotelian may object that this just pushes the problem back a step - why, then, are the laws of physics what they are? Clearly the laws of physics are just a description of how things behave - formal and final causes explain why. But that creates a problem: The laws of physics are universal. If we need to appeal to the form of a match and its "goal" of creating fire, for example, to explain why the laws of physics are what they are, then we're effectively committing ourselves to a miracle: Why is it that all of the final causes in the world seem to be able to be modeled by universal mathematical laws? Why does it seem as if these laws determine how things behave, and not the other way around?

And then you have Aristotle's biological claims - claims that are commonly sorted under "metaphysics" but are clearly empirical claims in some sense. Aristotle claims that sensation and imagination are powers of material organs, but what if our scientific picture of the world gives no possible way for sentience to emerge from matter? Then we're just back to the materialism vs. dualism debate as to whether sentience requires something extra or if it's reducible to the interactions of matter.


Keep in mind that I'm not an expert on Aristotelian metaphysics, so I may be misunderstanding a lot of things here. If I have made a mistake or misrepresented Aristotelianism in any way, feel free to correct me. I'm just offering my two cents here.

Martin said...

ingx24

>Today, we can tell a story of laws of thermodynamics, chemical reactions in the air molecules, the internal makeup of wood, etc. to explain why lighting a match causes fire.

Feser addresses just this objection in TLS. The underlying molecular structure, discovered by chemistry and physics, is what gives the match its final cause. It is the "material cause" of the final cause, if you will. They are simply two different levels of analysis. One is that the match is by nature directed towards a specific effect, and the other is the explanation of that nature.

>Aristotle claims that sensation and imagination are powers of material organs, but what if our scientific picture of the world gives no possible way for sentience to emerge from matter?

I think that in fact the reason that sensation cannot arise from matter is because the anti-Aristotelians who defined matter as being devoid of such properties. That re-embracing Aristotelianism puts secondary qualities back out in the real world again, and hence sensation (with its secondary properties) can now arise from matter (with its secondary properties).

I.e., that dualism is a monster created by the rejection of Aristotelianism.

Papalinton said...

What seems so silly is the the concept of act/potency being promulgated by believers. The irony being that act/potency is a fully reductionist philosophical stance. It advocates that every act, thought and thing can be accounted for through act/potency reductionism. And yet believers fight so hard against the reductionist view claiming that the body/brain cannot be reduced to the pejorative 'meat machine'.

Goose/gander?

Martin said...

>It advocates that every act, thought and thing can be accounted for through act/potency reductionism.

It advocates no such thing. Have fun beating up on something that you made up in your own fevered imagination.

ingx24 said...

I think that in fact the reason that sensation cannot arise from matter is because the anti-Aristotelians who defined matter as being devoid of such properties. That re-embracing Aristotelianism puts secondary qualities back out in the real world again, and hence sensation (with its secondary properties) can now arise from matter (with its secondary properties).

I.e., that dualism is a monster created by the rejection of Aristotelianism.


I could not possibly disagree more.

First of all: The problem of consciousness has little to nothing to do with whether or not sensory qualities exist in the material world. The problem is why these qualities should be experienced: why there should be an inner conscious life at all, rather than all information-processing simply going on "in the dark" without any inner feel.

Second of all: Aristotelianism does not give an explanation for why this capacity to experience sensations belongs to animals and humans but not to plants and inorganic matter. What accounts for the difference? If it is that animals' sensory organs are able to receive perceptible forms, why does reception of these perceptible forms cause the animal to experience them as sensations? There still seems to be a need for something extra, no matter how you slice it.



Feser addresses just this objection in TLS. The underlying molecular structure, discovered by chemistry and physics, is what gives the match its final cause. It is the "material cause" of the final cause, if you will. They are simply two different levels of analysis. One is that the match is by nature directed towards a specific effect, and the other is the explanation of that nature.

But then why do we need final causes at all? If the molecular structure explains why the match has the final cause it does, and that final cause explains why it behaves the way it does, can't we just cut out the middleman and say that the molecular structure explains why it behaves the way it does? The dispositions of the particles making up the match seem sufficient to explain the dispositions of the match itself, so why does the match itself need a final cause to explain why it behaves the way it does?

Martin said...

>The problem is why these qualities should be experienced: why there should be an inner conscious life at all, rather than all information-processing simply going on "in the dark" without any inner feel.

That is the limit of my (amateur) knowledge of Aristotelianism. Perhaps Oderberg would have more? That's who I'm told to read next, but I haven't yet.

>The dispositions of the particles making up the match seem sufficient to explain the dispositions of the match itself, so why does the match itself need a final cause to explain why it behaves the way it does?

But a "disposition" is just a final cause by another name. As you say above, the molecules must behave in certain regular ways in order for the match to work, and so it just moves the problem back a step. But to that you had said:

>Clearly the laws of physics are just a description of how things behave - formal and final causes explain why.

I don't think that's quite right. Final causes are not explanatory in that way. The explanation for why the match is directed towards its goal lies in the molecular structure that chemistry describes. The final cause comes "first": we could not have a science of matches if it were the case that matches did something different every time you struck one. No experiment on matches could be extrapolated to all matches, and no science would be possible. So before science even begins (so the A-Tist would argue), final causality must be real. Then science provides the explanations behind the final causality.

ingx24 said...

But if final causality is just dispositions, then why is it so controversial? Obviously there are causal regularities in the world.

Martin said...

>But if final causality is just dispositions, then why is it so controversial? Obviously there are causal regularities in the world.

It's controversial because the Aristotelian worldview is supposed to be dead and buried. Causal regularities can be cashed out in other terms. For example, "laws" of nature that force objects to behave a certain way, rather than objects just behaving a certain way.

ingx24 said...

But aren't these "laws" supposed to be what explains why causal regularities are what they are? I don't think anyone disputes that there is causal regularity in the world; just whether or not this causal regularity needs to be explained by "goals" in nature or things being "directed towards" certain effects.

From what I've read of Feser's blog, he seems to see final causality as being necessary to explain causal regularity - i.e. final causality is not just dispositions to create certain effects or behave in certain ways, but rather the goal-directedness that explains why these dispositions hold.

Martin said...

>But aren't these "laws" supposed to be what explains why causal regularities are what they are?

That's one interpretation, yes. That an electron doesn't do anything until the overarching law forces it to behave a certain way.

Another is that an electron just does what it does (final causality). No overarching law.

I.e., external vs internal.

ingx24 said...

That's one interpretation, yes. That an electron doesn't do anything until the overarching law forces it to behave a certain way.

Another is that an electron just does what it does (final causality). No overarching law.

I.e., external vs internal.


Okay, that kind of makes sense. But my beef with final causality is this: If the behavior of particles at the subatomic level is sufficient to, say, cause a match to produce fire, then why do we need to appeal to final causality above the subatomic level? Can't we just say that subatomic particles behave the way they do and let that explain physical causation above the subatomic level? And if so, how do you ground things like natural law morality?

Papalinton said...

""It advocates no such thing. "

If the Aristotelian notion of act/potency is not about reducing every act, thought and thing to either actual or potential, then what does it advocate?

Martin said...

um-skeptical,

>Can't we just say that subatomic particles behave the way they do and let that explain physical causation above the subatomic level?

But "behaving the way they do" just is final causality. In virtue of their structure, electrons orbit atoms. In virtue of their structure, protons and neutrons stick together (or whatever).

If that's true, then you are talking about formal and final causes.

They aren't supposed to explain the why. That is the job of science. Rather, to do science at all we have to assume from the start that X object will always do Y behavior in the same circumstances, so that we can examine a handful of them and then conclude "this is what Xs do", and so have a science of Xs. Or so the Aristotelian would argue.

ingx24 said...

Martin,

That was me who wrote that, not im-skeptical :(

In any case, if final causality just means that things will behave the same way in the same circumstances because of their structure, then I don't see how final causality could be coherently denied without undermining science itself. It seems like formal and final causality is already implicitly believed in by most working scientists, even if they don't call it by that name.

However, I don't think formal and final causality gets you all the way to things like explanations of intentionality, holism (i.e. wholes are objectively more than the sum of their parts), natural law ethics, Aristotelian conceptions of living things and the soul, etc.. In other words, I don't think formal and final causality accomplishes what Thomists think it does.

I should probably pick up a copy of The Last Superstition one of these days to clarify these issues. And I've heard TLS is pretty funny too, so that's another incentive to pick it up :)

Martin said...

Oops! I certainly didn't mean to type I'm-skeptical.

Yes. Get TLS. You won't regret it.

im-skeptical said...

"Oops! I certainly didn't mean to type I'm-skeptical."

No problem. That's not what you typed.

Papalinton said...

ingX24
"I should probably pick up a copy of The Last Superstition one of these days to clarify these issues. And I've heard TLS is pretty funny too, so that's another incentive to pick it up :)"

I finished reading Dr Feser's TLS about a month ago. The polemics are terrific and acerbic. He gives as good as anyone and he dishes it out to New Atheists in spades. However, Dawkins, Dennett et al, probably don't even know who Feser is. There has been no response from Dennett [or Dawkins] that I'm aware of. Catholics probably feel that that is reason enough to believe Dennett has been blown out of the water by Feser and he is unable to respond. I would suggest otherwise.

His material on Aquinas and Aristotle is very good. It is well explained and you probably will derive benefit in reading his work on Aristotle and Aquinas. I couldn't say that anything more or different or new to what is generally known and has already been said out there by philosophers and scholars over time, has been brought to the table by the publication of TLS.

Feser's treatment on same-sex marriage and condoms, along with necrophilia and bestiality are trite and generally align with the theology of current Church dogma, 'theo-logic' being quite a different beast from the normally acknowledged and accepted form of 'logic' one would apply in philosophy. [That's my little dig. ;o)] And one could say that Feser's prediction of the impending fall of Western Civilization is all down to modernity sloughing away from Aristotelian Scholasticism is a real stretch of fanciful prophesying.

The sense I get from his book is that it is a primer largely targeted at Christian theists who feel they have been somewhat beseiged over the last decade or so and need a champion to rally the troops; a sort of grand inspirational speech to lift spirits. In that respect it probably will experience a bounce in popularity. And in some respects I hope it does. A good robust and vigorous debate is all the better for testing claims.

The TLS is currently ranked #10,326 on the Amazon best seller's list. Dawkins God Delusion is currently at #1,012 after it ranked #2 on the Amazon.com bestsellers' list in November 2006.

Nonetheless, it is a good read.
I concur with Martin's advice, but for different reasons.

im-skeptical said...

I've wanted to read it, but not sure I want to contribute to his financial well-being.

Martin said...

Then buy used: http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/1587314525/ref=tmm_pap_used_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=used&qid=1367296242&sr=8-1