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Reasoning To Belief: Feser’s The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism — Part III

First Things First

Read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part Interlude, Part IV, Part V, Part VI. Part Last.

There is only one truth, and everybody must operate by its implications. You needn’t (yet) believe this Truth is God, nor must you even know that this Truth exists. But you’re stuck with it all the same. A man jumping from a tall building need not know it is gravity which grips him, nor need he have any idea what is about to happen to him. Another man may believe he can fly. A third fellow, a physicist, may spout his controversial theory that gravity is a fiction. But all will reenact the flight of Newton’s apple.

Parmenides will walk from town to town lecturing that all movement is impossible. Zeno will hear of Parmenides’s approach and will claim, even as he sees him cresting the horizon, that Parmenides will never make it. Berkeley will follow Johnson and stub his toe, and then deny the swelling. A solipsist will lecture earnestly how wonderful the world would be if only everybody believed as he did that nobody else existed. A materialist will lecture earnestly how wonderful the world would be if only everybody acknowledged as he did that other people existed, but that they were all fictions of their own imaginations.

A relativist will argue that it is certain that there are no truths. A scientist will claim it is certain that only observation can tell us that there are certainties. A socialist will—but enough insanity!

It is clear enough, to most of us, that we must operate by the “laws” of physics. Ignorance of these laws is no excuse. Unlike human laws, it is impossible to break the dictates of physics. Even if one claims that one can or has. Exceptions are only apparent, the result of lack of knowledge. And so it is will all Truth, even metaphysical truth. We must follows its laws, even when we’re unaware of them, or claim to be.

Observation cannot tell us all truth. This is proved simply: we cannot observe that only observations can tell us all truth. We can and do—must—use reason to deduce that which cannot be observed. It then follows that we must come built with (or are at some point given) the revelations necessary to carry out these operations. The three paths to truth are: revelation, reason, and observation. Scoffing? You shouldn’t. This is how all mathematics works. Axioms are revealed, reason carries them forward, observations prove the application. It is is not through reason or observation that we know the axioms. It is not through revelation or observation that we know there are an infinity of numbers. It is not through reason or revelation that we learn which equation fits a set of numbers best.

Now given all this, it behooves us to sit and to think and to figure out just what the truth is. The first question is: what can we know? The first result is that we cannot know all of Truth. The proof is trivial: most, including the living and dead, people didn’t or don’t. Consider a scene from Hannah and Her Sisters, in which Woody Allen’s character is telling his aged parents of his (temporary) conversion to Catholicism. His mother is distressed and somehow the conversation turns to history. The mother shouts to the father to explain to Woody why there were Nazis. “How the hell do I know why there were Nazis,” the father says, “I don’t know even how the can opener works!” “We” don’t know anything; only an individual can know. Plus, there is no proof that all can be known; the universe and reality are far too complex for most of us, perhaps for any of us. Observations—history is saturated with examples—shows that mistakes are easy and common.

Obversely, there is plenty we do know, including philosophical and metaphysical truths. Feser says scientists begin with the metaphysical truths that

[T]here is a physical world existing independently of our minds; this world is characterized by various objective patterns and regularities; our senses are at least partially reliable sources of information about this world; there are objective laws of logic and mathematics that apply to the objective world outside our mind; our cognitive powers—of concept-formation, reasoning from premises to conclusion, and so forth—afford us a grasp of these laws and can reliably take use form evidence derived from the sense to conclusions about the physical world; the language we use can adequately express truths about these laws and about the external world; and so on and on.

But it is only recently, in the last few minutes of intellectual thought, that some scientists would deny not just these metaphysical truths, but all of metaphysics. These scientists are, however, no different than the man who denies gravity. Feser quotes from E.A. Burtt: “even the attempt to escape metaphysics is no sooner put in the form of a propositions than it is seen to involve highly significant metaphysical postulates.” You can deny truth, but you cannot escape it: “…your metaphysics will be held uncritically because it is unconscious; moreover…it will be propagated by insinuation rather than by direct argument.” The scientist who disbelieves in metaphysics “must have a method, and he will be under a strong and constant temptation to make a metaphysics out of his method, that is, to suppose the universe ultimately of such a sort that his method must be appropriate and successful.”

Very well: we must have a metaphysics, and as we have seen above—to quote from The Highlander, a source which never stops giving—there can be only one. Next time we start with Feser’s recounting of Aquinas’s First Way.

Read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part Interlude, Part IV, Part V, Part VI. Part Last.

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1Note: all comments about Feser’s tone or about the personalities of the New Atheists will be removed to Part I of this series. A related dodge—which is always obvious—is to say, “These arguments stink” and then to leave without saying exactly, precisely, logically why. However, you’re welcome to use this ploy if you think that, just this once, it will work. The comment by “Cole” at the top illustrates this technique.

49 thoughts on “Reasoning To Belief: Feser’s The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism — Part III Leave a comment

  1. All of this begs the question: what is Truth?

    In the long run, it’s the determination of what works and what doesn’t. Ultimately, it’s defined by its utility and always within a given framework. In math, you can determine “Truth” but, outside of math, this “truth” has no meaning. This holds for all philosophies. In science, “Truth” effectively can’t be determined — only “Not Truth”.

    Colloquially, “True” implies “Real” — a validation of a world model.

    Do the planetary configurations determine your fate as claimed by astrology? In the long run, it doesn’t matter much. That knowledge has no value outside of prediction and I think it can be shown that astrological predictions aren’t very successful so, regardless of the “Truth” of the claims of Astrology, their utility is low unless you value the feelings produced or their ability to act a decision tie breakers.

    Does God exist? In the long run, it doesn’t matter. The belief only affects a person’s outlook. The “Truth” of your beliefs are irrelevant to everyone else although your belief may cause problems in your interactions with others.

    “Gravity: not a fiction but a fictitious force ”

    But the concept of masses attracting other masses is not fiction. If you only care about the predictive value of what happens between masses, it’s irrelevant whether gravity is or is not a “force”.

  2. Observation cannot tell us all truth. This is proved simply: we cannot observe that only observations can tell us all truth.

    Are you saying that we can’t observe the opposite therefore it’s false? If so, by the same logic, can one say that “God doesn’t exist” can be proved simply: we cannot observe that God exist?

    I think that to prove it you need to provide an example of a truth that’s not told by observation.

    I can see why the knowledge of gravity is used as an analogy for the knowledge of God. Can someone make the analogy stronger by giving me one or two phenomena signaling God’s work?

    Still, a good analogy can enhance our understanding, but we can’t prove anything from an analogy.

    I look forward to arguments from reason that I could possibly use to demonstrate that my Grandma had rightly (or just rationally) believed in reincarnation.

    Ah, reincarnation reminds me of a fun memory. One day, immediately after my younger daughter got in my car after school, she said she had a piece of wonderful news to tell me. The good news is that I’ll go to heaven because I am married to a Catholic. I asked her if God had said anything about that I would be a pig or a human being in the heaven.

  3. I like how the title claims reason, then the article jumps into fallacies:

    Appeal to ignorance
    Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

  4. There is a difference between unknown and unknowable that is critical here. It is certainly unknown to science whether any deities exist, but there are possible observations that would confirm such a thing. The major flaw in atheism is that they turn the unknown into the confirmed, the major flaw of agnostics is that they turn the unknown into the unknowable.

  5. “there are possible observations that would confirm such a thing”

    If there were then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The observations would have to be unambiguous. Finding a murky image of the Blessed Virgin on a piece of toast for example wouldn’t count.

    “major flaw in atheism is that they turn the unknown into the confirmed”

    Why doesn’t a believer exhibit same flaw?

  6. I have a theory that is completely consistent with experience. The first postulate is, “There is no gravity, the Earth sucks”.

  7. DAV says:
    Does God exist? In the long run, it doesn’t matter. The belief only affects a person’s outlook. The “Truth” of your beliefs are irrelevant to everyone else although your belief may cause problems in your interactions with others.

    I say:
    If you believed and made certain you knew your neighbour was to be murdered and your neighbour did not know it, I’d hope you’d for your neighbour’s sake you’d tell them. I’d also wet my pants with laughter if you have ever given a testimony in court.

    There’s irony here, too. You contradict yourself by your actions. When viewing your comment through the lens of your reasoning, you are participating in this discussion with other people and vainly arguing a point which is irrelevant to others.

    Furthermore, if beliefs grounded in truth are, by your logic, inherently meaningless to other people, you have no right to participate in this discussion and Briggs should remove your comment. You have deemed your contributions irrelevant and what you believe is essentially “noise” distracting others from learning something about the reality of their existence.

    If anyone with the heart to do so can demonstrate using reason the existence of God and the immortality of the soul and if history can prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ, then the teachings of Jesus Christ carry considerable implications for everyone’s existence. It is therefore important that such reasoning be subject to considerable validation and the consequences made known.

    If anyone with the heart to do so can reliably demonstrate jumping off a cliff will significantly injure or kill someone, then the considerable implications and consequences of this fact/truth/reality should be made known.

  8. Kiel, it may be possible to demonstrate the existence of God. It is unlikely to be possible to do so for the immortality of the soul. No one can even prove Jesus Christ (as identified by Christianity) existed let alone his supposed resurrection. He is as mythological as Hercules.

  9. Well, Kiel, it doesn’t matter. You are comparing things where you can detect the difference with things where you cannot. Jumping off a cliff has detectable outcomes regardless of the beliefs of the jumper or observers. Having no way to establish the existence of God through observation means God’s existence or non-existence has no detectable impact on anything. Someone’s belief just might though.

    If you think there is a way to observe God (outside of your say so) please enlighten us. The observation has to be unequivocal. That means something which can only be explained by God’s existence.

  10. I’m late to the party I see.

    To say that there are absolute truths because gravity is true and so on is ridiculous. Do we know enough about physics to proclaim its absoluteness already? Are you this conceited? The funniest part of this “absolute gravity” is that it is those who are trying to convince me of the existence of God that are the most fervent unbelievers in the existence of miracles!!

    Feser says scientists begin with the metaphysical truths…

    Don’t confuse principles and assumptions with “Truths”. Reductionism is not a “Truth”, it is a working principle that is useful. For instance, “holism” is just as “True” as “reductionism”. However, it is extremely less useful as a working principle due to the huge ambiguities that it provokes in the scientific community (as we all recognize in theological circles and their inane “exegetic” analysis – what an oxymoron).

    The law of non-contradiction is a principle that guides scientific expression, as a way to diminish ambiguity between scientists, it’s not a “fundamental truth” or whatever you call it. Just ask a poet or a comedian, and he’ll laugh at you. Ambiguities are cherished by humans, except when they want to make science.

  11. Are you implying that in science observation is unequivocal?

    Exactly. Good point. Hume in this is unstoppably good. He would make fun of the Briggs’ and Feser’s types.

  12. There are many true statements, but the statement that there is only one “Truth” is not one of them. Especially not if you call it “God”.

    There should be a god to smites one’s enemies and to provide food, lodging and entertainment in the afterlife. Everything else is supposedly smart people believing their own ideas about themselves being really smart.

    For a more formal argument, what about a definition of this “Truth” concept. There is no use in arguing about it if you do not know what it means exactly. For instance, is Truth the set of all true statements?

    Or is a statement true because there is a bit of Truth in that statement, and if so, how much?

  13. Sadly, as quite often happens with Prof Brigg’s religious efforts, I find this is a rather disappointing piece of writing.

    Prior commentators have already raised many of the issues I find unpersuasive, but I’ll add some of my own to reinforce the problems!

    I, of course, may be wrong in my criticisms and I arrive with the baggage and assumptions of my non-theistic point of view – Prof Briggs is very sharp at pointing out these personal biases especially when it comes to debates with liberals, I am sure he recognizes he suffers from these issues himself.

    The language he uses is to me fascinating – “Truth is God”, “we must come built with (or are at some point given) … revelations [concerning Truth]”.

    My understanding is that this post simply states that we all make assumptions – Prof Briggs calls this metaphysics which in my view is a bit grandiose, but for that we can blame philosophers! I am a bit unclear what relationship Prof Briggs sees between these assumptions (his metaphysics) and truth.

    When reasoning, I assume my assumptions are true. I do not know if they are true, but I’ll try and justify them if someone disagrees with me.

    Are the two sentences directly above this sentence true?

    Does this have any relevance to the nature of truth in the world? My answer is: a little bit, but in the grand scheme of things it isn’t that important – and says nothing about God – which I understand is meant to be what these particular set of posts is about! Opps jumping the gun again, YOS?!

    Prof Briggs says: “We can and do—must—use reason to deduce that which cannot be observed.” He later says “It is is [sic] not through reason or observation that we know … axioms”. Am I the only person who feels these two sentences contradict each other. I feel the first sentence is basically correct and the second one basically wrong when it comes to how we deal with reality.

    I think I am an empiricist – though being unfamiliar with all the baggage such a word has I may be wrong! My belief is that we first observe the world, we then infer, make certain assumptions, about how we are going to reason about the world and about the world itself – we then do science.

    I feel Prof Briggs disagrees and changes the order to we first make certain assumptions about how we are going to reason about the world, we then go and observe the world and so deduce some more assumptions this time about the world itself, and we then do science.

    Where science means trying to fit our assumptions to reality!

    Is there an important difference between these two points of view – I don’t really think so. If feel induction, deduction, retroduction arguments don’t get us particularly far and I await with bated breath how this relates to God.

    I think I am a Bayesian – I have no idea if my assumptions are true, but will assume they are and try to make them as explicit as possible to ensure I’m not missing anything out. Doing this tells me nothing about reality, but may, in some cases may, on observing the world, be useful.

    If my assumptions, either about the world itself, or how I am going to reason about these assumptions, are wrong then what I am doing definitely won’t be useful, if they are right they may be.

    I don’t think any of this has been revealed to me, or been (deliberately) built in to me – it is simply something we’ve noticed and made use of – I guess those who didn’t notice these things failed to make the cut over evolutionary time scales.

    Does there need to be some miraculous intervention to make any of this so – I genuinely don’t think so, but remain fascinated that Prof Briggs, Mr Feser etc seem to insist there has to be.

    The case made so far is very unconvincing, but we are only at Part III. Let’s see what happens!

  14. “Are you implying that in science observation is unequivocal?”

    Essentially. I don’t see any point in quibbling over words. Who said anything about scientific observation?

    I want to rule out things like “there are good people in the world” or nice days or flowers blooming or any similar. I meant: make a prediction that differentiates God from not-God that we can agree upon then demonstrate it.

    You don’t need a particular view of the world to see an object fall to the Earth when released. There is no mistaking it. It doesn’t matter what you call it or why its there. It is obviously there. I pretty much would want the same level of certainty in any observation of God but am open.

  15. The case made so far is very unconvincing, but we are only at Part III. Let’s see what happens!

    The poison is already established though. What “follows” is just the “deduction” from these so-called “uncontroversial” premises, therefore if you deny them you are just an ignorant fool.

  16. …I pretty much would want the same level of certainty in any observation of God but am open.

    Haha, that’s a good one. If you formulate it like you did, the last three words appear grotesque.

    Everything depends on what type of existence is actually hinted at. I would certainly agree that God does not exist in the way a stone is being thought to exist. Nor does He exist in the way a person is being thought to exist.

    What causes the man to fall? Is it the aether that pushes him down or is he attracted through gravity? You cannot determine by observation alone what caused the “detectable outcome” unequivocally. You can however argue your case.

  17. Bees know how to navigate using the sun and how to communicate the location and quality of food sources that are found while foraging. It’s not learned behaviour. There are probably classes of knowledge encoded in us in similar fashion.

    Are you heading toward the ghost in the machine?

    In any event, this whole line of argument is not addressing the real questions, even if you can prove that a creator must exist. I’m not claiming that these are original questions, just that I’ve not seen plausible answers to them.
    1. Where did the creator come from?
    2. What sort of creator are you talking about, good, bad, indifferent?
    3. Given the undoubted omnipotence of the creator, can we trust anything we believe or observe?

    I’ve often wondered if philosophy is merely another branch of statistics, except that it’s the words that are tortured until they tell you want (or should that be need?) to know….

  18. “What causes the man to fall?”

    I was trying to further clarify what I meant by “unequivocal” through example and I thought I made it clear that the Why doesn’t necessarily matter. Is it something you require?

    “Everything depends on what type of existence is actually hinted at”

    How about in a way that is detectable? Also, how some examples on the different types of existence you have in mind?

    “God does not exist in the way a stone is being thought to exist. Nor does He exist in the way a person is being thought to exist.”

    Exists kinda like the monster in my dryer that eats socks? Or maybe exists like a character in a movie? Or like my dead mother still exists in my mind? Please elaborate.

    “the last three words appear grotesque”

    If being open to negotiation strikes you as grotesque, so be it (or would you prefer “Amen”?)

  19. The poison is already established though. What “follows” is just the “deduction” from these so-called “uncontroversial” premises, therefore if you deny them you are just an ignorant fool.

    Yes, it is generally agreed that those who reject logic and reasoning are fools. Or to quote Feser:

    “…your metaphysics will be held uncritically because it is unconscious; moreover…it will be propagated by insinuation rather than by direct argument.”

    Looks like we have some positive proof for Mr Feser there! 😀

  20. Off course it is commendable that you are willing to negotiate, but the window you allow for the so called unequivocal detection of God might just be a tad too small. Those who argued for the existence of God in the past are no fools, at least not in my view. I cannot demonstrate the existence of God to anyone, not even to myself. I hope you can appreciate this confession. I’m pretty much convinced that if it is “detectable” it is not God. Are willing to accept that our inner self could be an instrument of detection if it has been calibrated correctly?

  21. “Are willing to accept that our inner self could be an instrument of detection if it has been calibrated correctly?”

    Not really. Our inner selves have a talent for fooling ourselves in many ways.

  22. Yes, it is generally agreed that those who reject logic and reasoning are fools. Or to quote Feser:

    Where did I reject “logic” or “reasoning” per se?

    Or do you think perhaps that by denying this particular logic or reasoning, I am denying the very concepts of logic and reasoning?

    That reasoning seems quite illogical to me. But I won’t call you a fool.

  23. Not really. Our inner selves have a talent for fooling ourselves in many ways.

    The problem is not even that we are *always* fooling ourselves, but particularly damning is the observation that we just don’t know when we are fooling ourselves (the definition of fooling), therefore we do not know when we are making trivial or less trivial mistakes. Therefore we cannot suppose that even our most fervent beliefs are without error.

  24. Where did I reject “logic” or “reasoning” per se?

    Following post:

    The problem is not even that we are *always* fooling ourselves, but particularly damning is the observation that we just don’t know when we are fooling ourselves (the definition of fooling), therefore we do not know when we are making trivial or less trivial mistakes. Therefore we cannot suppose that even our most fervent beliefs are without error.

    Self refuting, but very lulzy attempt to prove that logic and reasoning are useless.

    Truly, Luis is the most subtle, yet brilliant, comedian of our age.

  25. Nate,

    Self refuting, but very lulzy attempt to prove that logic and reasoning are useless.

    Which only goes to show we tend to see what we want to see. The subject was “introspection” and not “logic”. Luis made that comment about what I had to say about the uselessness of introspection because it is not reliable.

    If you have trouble with what’s right under your nose then imagine the problems with what you’ve dragged out of memory or deduced from what you may have only fancied.

  26. The intriguing thing is that some folks, fearing that God may lurk somewhere at the top of the stairs, find it highly prudent and rational to deny the stairs.

    Hence, Hume’s denial of causation; or post-modern denials that one’s own self even exists.
    + + +

    Prof Briggs says: “We can and do—must—use reason to deduce that which cannot be observed.” He later says “It is is [sic] not through reason or observation that we know … axioms”. Am I the only person who feels these two sentences contradict each other.

    We can only hope so. The axioms are prior to the reasoning, let alone to the observations. Reason deduces from the axioms. It is impossible within any discourse either to deduce or observe the axioms of that discourse. cf. the Axiom of Choice, or Euclid’s parallel postulate, neither of which can be demonstrated within the bounds of Zermelo Set Theory or Euclidean geometry, resp.
    + + +

    Where did the creator come from?

    Seriously, This is why one must learn to follow an argument step-by-step, and not leap ahead to wonder about a more distant conclusion simply because you have not yet grasped the intermediate steps. This would be like someone seeing a river ahead on the route of a planned highway who cannot see how the paving machines can lay out the cement or asphalt on the river. Have patience, and the bridge-builders will arrive at their appointed time.

    (The short answer, anticipating, is that some being must exist necessarily rather than contingently, then that this being is Existence Itself; then as axiomatic that Existence Exists. So the question becomes: “From where does Existence obtain its existence?” Details to follow, one supposes.

    Relax and enjoy the ride. You can hop off the train later, but this is too soon, and you wind up with contorted contentions that deny ordinary experience.

  27. Which only goes to show we tend to see what we want to see. The subject was “introspection” and not “logic”.

    So I guess when he said:
    “The problem is not even that we are *always* fooling ourselves…”
    With emphasis on the “always”, it was a new meaning of always I hadn’t been briefed on yet?

    Because otherwise, “always fooling ourselves” would include whenever we use logic and reason.

    Not to mention:
    “Therefore we cannot suppose that even our most fervent beliefs are without error.”

    “Most fervent beliefs” would include (as phrased), ALL beliefs, even those including logic and reasoning.

    Luis made that comment about what I had to say about the uselessness of introspection because it is not reliable.

    Yeah, a comment phrased to include sets which would “logic” and “reasoning”. The context doesn’t change the meaning of his statement.

    If you have trouble with what’s right under your nose then imagine the problems with what you’ve dragged out of memory or deduced from what you may have only fancied.

    Coming from the leaders in lack of common sense, I find it rather flattering.

  28. There should be an “include” up there. Internet gremlins must have eated them.

    Also, I meant to point out in Luis’ statement:

    but particularly damning is the observation that we just don’t know when we are fooling ourselves

    Would include logic and reasoning as those could just be us fooling ourselves as well. Luis says we can’t know if we are.

  29. Nate,

    (*sigh*)
    Like I said: “only goes to show we tend to see what we want to see.”

    Nobody is trying to write their Magnum Opus here. Allow some latitude in chosen words and phrases. Oh, yes: context matters.

    BTW: “particularly damning is the observation that we just don’t know when we are fooling ourselves” is unfortunately often true. People tend to back-fill memories and employ confirmation bias not to mention wishful thinking. It is quite difficult for an individual to sort out reality from internal fiction without outside help.

  30. Nobody is trying to write their Magnum Opus here. Allow some latitude in chosen words and phrases. Oh, yes: context matters.

    Sort of like how you were talking with rembie and not Luis and it was Luis who then interjected? There is no context within this entire thread that would limit Luis statement to “just” introspection. Especially when he had earlier said:
    “To say that there are absolute truths because gravity is true and so on is ridiculous.”

    Looks like you’re proving very apt at demonstrating seeing only what you want to see.

    Or is that the point? You providing an object lesson here? Bravo if that was the case. Good show.

    BTW: “particularly damning is the observation that we just don’t know when we are fooling ourselves” is unfortunately often true. People tend to back-fill memories and employ confirmation bias not to mention wishful thinking. It is quite difficult for an individual to sort out reality from internal fiction without outside help.

    I would agree with you because I too believe in absolute truths, logic, and reason. You’re going to have to take up the objections with Luis. Because otherwise, “to sort out reality” is fools errand for anyone, because we have no way of telling if the “outside help” is a manifestation of our internal fiction (further fooling ourselves) or whether even if the outside help coming to us are suffering from their own internal fiction so in the end it all just further propagates the problems.

    Funny on what you seem so intent on seeing…

  31. “I would agree with you because I too believe in absolute truths …”

    I don’t think I ever mentioned a belief in absolute truth. In fact I think I said truth only exists within a framework (http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=5993&cpage=1#comment-72707). You appear insistent on reading what may not have been intended into what I and apparently others say. I suspect it’s because you are failing to consider alternatives. You certainly don’t seem inclined to ask or otherwise recognize alternatives. Is this an extension of absolute truth?

  32. DAV, you said earlier “sort out reality”. As I explained earlier (which you seemed not to have read any further), that is only possible if absolute truth exists. Otherwise, there is nothing to “sort out”.

    So perhaps you should make up your own mind. Is there a “reality”? Is there anything to “sort out”?

    Otherwise, it would seem your own philosophy is self-refuting (which would explain why you contradict yourself so much). But yes, I see no alternatives to reality.

  33. you said earlier “sort out reality”.

    Ahhh! I should have picked up on that from your previous post. Mea culpa. In context, “reality” was intended to mean “that which is external” as opposed to internal. The topic at the time was introspection.

    Sorry, but I don’t have the time, ability nor inclination to search for words that don’t have special meaning to you. If I did, it is likely there others with similar requirements — a never-ending problem. As such, I’ll pick words which are expedient to me. Deal with it.

    Even now, you have failed to ask what I meant by it and instead have substituted what you are sure was meant and then ran away with it. But perhaps you possess Absolute Truth and your Inner Self confirms this?

  34. Absolute truth would be considered external.

    Of course, you wouldn’t have to search for “words that have special meaning” if you grasped the basics of philosophy and its proper terms. (sort of like the users that like to call their “monitors” their “computers”)

    If you won’t bother speaking the lingo, then realize how silly you’ll look to the people that do. (such as those users that turn their monitor off and on and then say, “Well I rebooted my computer and it didn’t fix it. I thought you computer guys were supposed to be smart.”)

    [[YES IT’S BEEN THAT KIND OF DAY]]

  35. Well, Duh-Yam! Heres I was talkin ta a egg spurt! No wonder y’ kin knows what peoples is saying even when they don’t! Go-oll-lee! Kain’t wait ta tell mah Annabelle Lee.

    Form over substance, eh? Silly me.

  36. CS Lewis take us out:
    “The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them.”

    I’d say come back when you’re older, DAV but oh, you’re just so darling and funny.

  37. “you’re just so darling and funny.”

    Thanks. That’s what I strive for. Hmmmm. Are you implying you are neither darling nor funny? Sad if true.

  38. All of this begs the question: what is Truth?

    Does it beg the question (i.e., assume the conclusion in the argument) or does it raise the question? Inquiring minds want to know and in this, the twilight of the Modern West, one actually needs to ask.

    Truth of course comes from O.E. triewð, “faithfulness, quality of being true,” from triewe,faithful, trustworthy,” from P.Gmc. *trewwjaz “having or characterized by good faith.”

    Which leads to faith. mid-13c., “duty of fulfilling one’s trust,” from O.Fr. feid, foi “faith, belief, trust, confidence, pledge,” from L. fides “trust, faith, confidence, reliance, credence, belief,” from root of fidere “to trust.”

    Thus a true line of bricks is one faithful to a standard, such as of linearity and workmanship. The Beach Boys prophesied “Be true to your school” as being faithful or trusting in one’s school. See also “true north.” Fiction is good if it is “true to life.” A man and woman are “be-truthed” (be-trothed) when they pledge to keep faith with each other.

    This is distinct from fact, which comes from the participle of a verb: factum est, “that which has the property of having been accomplished/made,” and is cognate with the term “feat,” meaning “deed.” (Cf. German Tatsache.) That is why a novel can be true without being the least factual.

    The truth of natural science is to be “true to the facts” while that of mathematics is to be “true to the axioms.” This is sometimes called the truth of correspondence and the truth of consistency. Mathematics is true if it keeps faith with the axioms and methods of valid reasoning; i.e., it is consistent. And natural science is true if it keeps faith with observable facts and follows proper inferences from those facts to the mathematical laws that describe them and the physical theories that make sense of them; i.e., it corresponds to experience. But then in each case there is a background standard to which one must be true which must be logically prior to the science or the mathematics.

    Note that if “we just don’t know when we are fooling ourselves,” if we “back-fill memories” and “employ confirmation bias and wishful thinking,”
    the whole scientific enterprise teeters precariously. It would “quite difficult for an individual to sort out reality from internal fiction without outside help.” So much for evolution or electromagnetism.

    But then this would be like saying that the whole enterprise of filing is untrustworthy because people sometimes spell things wrong and thus mis-file a record. Quality practitioners will recognize the distinction between a design error and an error of execution. The fact that scientists may sometimes incorrectly sort out reality does not make science unreliable. It just means that someone did the science wrong. And to do something wrong requires that there be a standard against which it is to be judged. (Yes, even if it is “evolutionaryistical.” There is something external against which selection is made.)

  39. Note that if “we just don’t know when we are fooling ourselves,” if we “back-fill memories” and “employ confirmation bias and wishful thinking,” the whole scientific enterprise teeters precariously. It would “quite difficult for an individual to sort out reality from internal fiction without outside help.” So much for evolution or electromagnetism.

    I don’t see it. Science tries to use outside help. Isn’t that what experimentation and observation amount to? Electromagnetism may turn out to be fantasy. We may never know. Seems to work though. Electric motors for example.

    I don’t think anyone, particularly me, is saying introspection isn’t useful but, if that’s your only tool, you run the danger of self-deception.

    The fact that scientists may sometimes incorrectly sort out reality does not make science unreliable. It just means that someone did the science wrong. And to do something wrong requires that there be a standard against which it is to be judged.

    I’m pretty sure the standard is the match with observation.

    Maybe I don’t really understand your point. Did you by any chance quote out of context?

    Does it beg the question (i.e., assume the conclusion in the argument) or does it raise the question?

    Well, if we are going to use dictionary definitions, “beg” sometimes means: it raises the desire for the answer to the question. It’s an idiom but then so is using it to mean “assumes the conclusion”.

    Idioms
    9. beg the question, to assume the truth of the very point raised in a question.

  40. Friend pointed out:

    Logic [and reasoning] is an absolute truth.
    DAV rejects [and makes fun of] absolute truths.
    Therefore, DAV rejects [and makes fun of] logic.

    Of course, he can’t agree with this rejecting logic and all, just pointing it out for the peanut gallery. (remember, DAV – the more you argue, the more you prove the opposition’s case)

  41. I don’t see it. Science tries to use outside help. Isn’t that what experimentation and observation amount to?

    What part of YOS’s staement:
    “The truth of natural science is to be “true to the facts””
    Did you not understand? (well, apparently all of it)

    I don’t think anyone, particularly me, is saying introspection isn’t useful but, if that’s your only tool, you run the danger of self-deception.

    And where has anyone said that it’s the “only tool”? The original post was that it’s the “only tool” in some instances. (seriously, for people that want to play pretend at not believing in absolute truths, you people sure resort to absolutes quite often)

    I’m pretty sure the standard is the match with observation.

    Maybe I don’t really understand your point. Did you by any chance quote out of context?

    Yeah, that’s why he said:
    “The truth of natural science is to be “true to the facts””

    Well, if we are going to use dictionary definitions, “beg” sometimes means: it raises the desire for the answer to the question. It’s an idiom but then so is using it to mean “assumes the conclusion”.

    Idioms
    9. beg the question, to assume the truth of the very point raised in a question.

    Then yes, technically speaking, to ask ANY question is to assume a truth in the first place. Thus, even to say “What is truth” is (in a sense) begging the question. Thus, if you want to reject truth, and avoid begging the question, then you must reject all questions forever more.

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