Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The ball is in my court

Regardless of who we are, if we study philosophy or theology, there is someone that we think has a lot of things right, that we want to know more about so that we can shape our own thoughts on the relevant subject matter. But what should we expect from this person? Is it possible to allow one's devotion to one's favorite thinker to get in the way of one's own thinking. In perhaps the most quotable line in my book, I said:

Great thinkers are always the ones that make us think harder for ourselves, not thinkers who do our thinking for us.

When I develop an argument based on Lewis, the argument becomes my argument. While I may adapt a number of points he makes, if I want to see how strong the argument really is in the light of contemporary philosophy, I have to make it my own argument. So, for example, Lewis's argument from reason talks about "full explanations" and "an act of knowing thus determined by what it knows." These are concepts that, Anscombe said in her 1981 response, that Lewis had failed to make clear. My argument talks about the causal closure of the physical, intentionality, supervenience and mental causation--and some of these terms were not developed in Lewis's time. Never mind, the ball is in my court.

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