Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ed Feser on the Materialist Shell Game

A redated post.

Along the same lines, here's a Lewis quote, from The Empty Universe:

The process whereby man has come to know the universe is from one point of view extremely complicated; from another it is alarmingly simple. We can observe a single one-way progression. At the outset the universe appears packed with will, intelligence, life, and positive qualities; every tree is a nymph and every planet a god. Man himself is akin to the gods. The advance gradually empties this rich and genial universe, first of its gods, then of its colours, smells, sounds and tastes, finally of solidity itself as solidity was originally imagined. As these items are taken from the world, they are transferred to the subjective side of the account:classified as out sensations, thoughts, images or emotions. The Subject becomes gorged, inflated, at the expense of the Object. But the matter does not rest there. The same method which has emptied the world now proceeds to empty ourselves. The masters of the method soon announce that we were just mistaken (and mistaken in much the same way) when we attributed “souls” or ‘selves” or “minds’ to human organisms, as when we attributed Dryads to the trees. Animism, apparently, begins at home. We, who have personified all other things, turn out to be ourselves mere personifications. Man is indeed akin to the gods, that is, he is no less phantasmal than they. Just as the Dryad is a “ghost,” an abbreviated symbol for certain verifiable facts about his behaviour: a symbol mistaken for a thing. And just as we have been broken of our bad habit of personifying trees, so we must now be broken of our habit of personifying men; a reform already effected in the political field. There never was a Subjective account into which we could transfer the items which the Subject had lost. There is no “consciousness” to contain, as images or private experiences, all the lost gods, colours, and concepts. Consciousness is “not the sort of noun that can be used that way.”


IlĂ­on said...

Great Shades of Swinburne!

Tony Hoffman said...

Alex: "The CONTEXT OF THE PERIOD? As if there is such a thing?!"

Okay. Good luck denying that historical context doesn't exist, and that it is not to be considered when interpreting ancient documents. That's a very, very slender branch onto which you appear to be staking your territory.

Alex: "The difference would be that readers of bioi would expect to be gaining true insight into the actual nature of a real person that the bioi is describing."

Agreed. I liken it to movie making, where in order to make it work the filmmaker must take liberties with the material  in order to capture what is to be conveyed. But this seems like a side issue, and does not amount to an objection that challenges the gist of my analogy. (And no analogy is perfect, so pointing out a difference between a thing and it's analogy seems pedantic unless it's material to that which the analogy exposes.)

Tony Hoffman said...

Whoops, sorry, -- wrong cmment thread. If I knew how to delete my preceding comment I would.

BenYachov said...

Wrong thread post.......

We have all been there.

GREV said...

Regarding the Shell Game and the Puzzling State of Affairs regarding Study of the Universe and its Origins

Here is an Interesting Quote Summarizing the Purpose of a New Book I Just Received:

“The last few years have seen several books championing agnosticism or atheism making their way into the popular press. These books leave most informed readers baffled, because they ignore the vast majority (if not the entirety) of the considerable evidence for theism provided by physics and philosophy during the last few decades. This evidence is capable of grounding reasonable and responsible belief in a super-intelligent, transcendent, creative power that stands at the origins of our universe or any hypothetically postulated multiverse. The main purpose of this book is to give a brief synopsis of this evidence to readers who are interested in exploring the strongest foundation for faith that has come to light in human history.”

From – New Proofs for the Existence of God -- Robert Spitzer

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