Thursday, December 03, 2009

God: A Summing Up Along the Way

If you give reasons for believing in God, you've just admitted that you believe in some higher God-like authority that is referenced to decide the issue.

However, it works both ways. Both believer and atheist assume God-like rules for minds, in order to determine whether or not God exists, and to generally construe the total reality that confronts us. So what is the status of our most basic assumptions? And are those assumptions vulnerable to the same criticisms leveled against belief in God? Or do they get a free ride?

The reasons one gives either for theism or atheism exert some God-like authority over one's beliefs, so that one must acknowledge some ultimate mind authority, namely the irreducibly basic assumptions of thought, regardless of what one believes. It's like an invisible mind-friend, to put a spin on a common objection to belief in God.

Any reasons given for believing in God assume criteria which themselves do not require the existence of a deity to be authoritative in determining what is true. This is a terrific problem for both sides of the issue, on several fronts, although for respectively different reasons.

Reasons offered for God's existence or non-existence necessarily play a god-like role in being the determining factors for deciding the issue.Those criteria are going to be just as ultimate, obligating, and exceptionless as any notion of divine essence, since that is the point of an argument, to use criteria and criteria-parsed premise statements to determine belief-propriety.

This doesn't directly require the existence of God, but it requires a set of ultimate ruling factors that themselves are treated as a sort of invisible mind-god, ruling over the god issue itself, functioning as an ultimate neutral arbitrating criterion.

Any rational distinction between X and non-X already assumes a god-like authority to parse particulars universally. Hence we believe God is different from heartburn (non-God objects) or that one thing generally is different from some other thing. We operate by assuming these rules of absolute distinctions in order to think anything, since to think that something is known or is meaningful is to think that thing as what it is, in contradistinction to any other thing at the same time and in the same sense. We have, in other words, a set of god-statements that function much like an operating system in a computer. Without some kind of basic system of control statements, we could not do anything with a computer. In the same way, without fixed and universal statements about meaning, communication, criteria, definitional constructs about basic distinctions and identities between terms, names, language rules, and so on, we could not function at even a basic level of biological survival, much less as reflective conscious entities.

To reason about God, is to assume premises which infer one or more things that are true of God by the authority of those premises in combination and their logical relation to some other statement that is inferred from those premises. Since this is about God, that means that those statements and what they infer, are the final court of appeal for what counts a valid and efficacious argument for God. Hence, those statements and relations play the epistemic role of God with regard to determining that God exists. Same thing is the case with regard to atheism. Hence the atheist is the God of their own belief, but so are believers. Each person is the God of their own belief choices, by the power of choice itself, and by the role that one's criteria of thought plays in the determination of what should be believed as true of one's reality as a whole.

Any attempt to explain this away somehow, ends up playing the same role as ultimate authority with regard to the status of the issue in question, knowledge per se, etc.

My issue with atheism pertains only to the status and implications of atheistic background assumptions, and the relation of those assumptions to the nature of personhood. I have no problem with the ultimacy and adequacy of reason or my use of it as the ultimately authoritative factor in determining what to believe is true. (I also agree with Rand, Browne, and randian objectivism in general with regard to the principle of rational self-interest. But that is another story.) In general, my position is that rationalist-objectivist atheism is the only adequate logical foundation for a reasoned belief in God. Reason is an aspect of God's ultimate nature, and necessarily so.

Meaning is non-controversial in any dispute of the term. Any dispute about meaning assumes non-disputed meaning.

To even merely recognize incoherence or some other inadequacy assumes a set of god-level construance rules. Furthermore, this is an integral set of statements that pertain to God. So it's god-level in two senses. One, in the sense of a universal thought tool and two, god-like in passing judgment about any and all god-issues, without appeal to anything but that same tool all over again.

A dispute over perception would be the pursuit of some at least partial idealization of a third party factor in the minds of all disputants, a non-controversial factor that would criterially arbitrate the dispute. That factor necessarily plays a god-like role as determiner of what is the case about God.

The denial of a norm of truth is just a claim, but the questioning I agree directly assumes a norm.

There is no reason why criteria of thought exert god-like authority, they just do in being the epistemic gods of the god question. And in relation to tennis-playing, the ground rules are god-like in that context. They are constructed to be the operational constants, in spite of the possibility of conflict over interpretation in specific instances.  True, the rules could be changed because of a recurring issue related to some vagueness or internal contradiction in the rules themselves, but those rules, once agreed on, are not questionable in specific instances of normal play.  But even in the case of a game such as tennis, given the desired conditions which define the game, the background criteria for rule-construction are non-controversial and ultimate.

It is precisely my point that there are necessarily hierarchic ultimates including one that is general for everything from the standpoint of thinking and believing. This ultimate is a set of statements, although I think there is much more to it than that. Everyone has a set of god-statements, and is the god of their own respective belief choices. It's referencing a standard of mind that is part of oneself yet is referred to as ultimate, exceptionless, indicative, and signifies the good in relation to pursuing goals of thought. Separate from myself in some sense yet functionally omnipresent.

One proceeds only on the basis of an ongoing set of operational rules. Those rules determine the possibility and range of thoughts but also the entire operational scheme. Procedural operations without prior and experientially enduring rules are not just blind, but indistinguishable from no procedural operations at all.

We are gods of our own thoughts insofar that we still hold a unique and privileged vantage point from which to assess and decide what is true or in our best interests concerning the implications of those criteria based on limited considerations as a finite knower, however automatic those criteria are always being assumed as the instrumental rules of construance, notwithstanding the philosophical loadedness of our instrumental assumptions in thinking. Reason is repressively tolerant with regard to finite knowers.

You can try to construct a definition, but this has some unique difficulties because meaning is a necessary assumption of all possible thought. Meaning (even in definitional identities, for example) is a component of all possible thoughts, all possible statements. So in some sense, meaning is already presupposed even in the statements that make up discussions of meaning. But it's not a far cry from definition. Many terms are known as to their meaning, however hard-pressed one might be to define them explicitly. And there are many non-controversial understandings of time, shown by people who use time-sensitive factors in dealing with each other in work and other affairs all the time.

Belief choice is not isolated or in a vacuum. We do in fact on many occasions choose whether or not to use or abide by certain necessary assumptions such as reason or the value of analysis, but they are always there nonetheless, and our minimal adherence even in the midst of defecting or attempting to defect from conformity to their strictures is telltale of their ultimacy. We can and do choose what to believe in the sense that our appraisal for the reasonability or probability of a belief being true is determined to be adequate to the available evidence, including theoretic evidence when a problematic situation presents itself. We choose to believe (or to continue to believe) in God usually by means of an appraisal of intuitions that ground the notion and give it its rationality and therefore acceptability. Reactions to objections to belief give evidence that this choice of what to believe is not set in stone and might even be threatened by alternative views.

To submit to any set of ultimate standards is to withhold a veto on them, thereby making an ongoing god-like decision to conform to a god-like set of rules of thought. And even though some atheists would agree with the ultimacy and adequacy of rational principles, they make a choice to stop at inescapability or meaningful undeniability instead of believing that this is some kind of operative aspect of the mind of God, for example. The fact that both atheist and theist can agree on the standards yet disagree completely on the conclusions of those standards is one kind of evidence that ultimates can be and are chosen. Not all of those absolutes, which is one aspect of the basis of my argument for God. But the other kind of evidence would be people who even reject those instrumental background presuppositions of knowing and thinking. Although I agree that this cannot be done without severe logical and self-referential consequences. The key to countering such denials, in fact, lies in strategically illustrating how certain fundamental truths are always running in the background, even if they are explicitly and consciously denied. The rejection is always operationally selective. But we are the ones who choose to give those norms and standards their ultimacy, adequacy, transcendence, and normativity, even though we think them with limited and subjective means at our disposal. We grant God an ultimate status, necessarily functioning in the image of God. We arbitrate the status we give to ultimates, even though this may involve contradicting them and suffering the consequences. The fact that people disagree on this point itself shows that it's a choice of conscious belief.

God-level construance rules are the ultimate assumptions for any discussion including discussions about God. To know the difference between spirit and heartburn requires background assumptions pertaining to the types and categories of experience, distinguishing them in relation to empirical objects, sensations, their role (lack of a role) in consciousness, and so on. To know the difference between reason and emotion is itself a rational distinction, and when we return from error, it is always through reason, even if that return originates in in a spiritual or intuitive experience that virtually defies analysis. That's why you cannot rule out, in advance, the insights of mystics, charismatics, intuitives, seers, and so on, even though I might completely disagree with their views denying reason is a possible means to the knowledge of God.

As stated previously, if you give reasons for believing in God (even if they are intuitive or mystical), you have just admitted that there are principles that are in some sense higher than God, since they decide whether or not God is to be believed in, and are offered as the ultimate court of appeal when belief in God is questioned.

So both the believer and the atheist have a problem with the status of ultimate principles underlying all thought.

QUESTION: Who's to say the principles themselves aren't God?

Roger: That is the subject of my dissertation. Has to do with the nature of personhood and the fact that statements (which are what principles are) exist only in minds.

QUESTION: Perhaps, like gravity, principles exist and for lack of understanding, we've simply chosen to call these principles "God".

Roger: Well, few would call principles God. But that is precisely the issue.

QUESTION: Does one have to be mystical to be "spiritual"?

Roger: It depends on how those terms are defined. But what is problematic about both arises when they go beyond merely being mystical or spiritual and start making grandiose universal claims about what can or cannot be known or that God cannot be known or reasoned about, and so on. That's when they bait and switch with regard to reasoning about God and knowledge. First, they prate on about the limitations of knowledge, logic, rational inquiry. When challenged, they retreat into the land beyond reason as a defense and a supporting rationale for their cognitive pecking order.

QUESTION: Roger, Your point about inconsistency would seem to apply to strong atheism but not weak atheism, which, as I understand it, is simply the lack of a belief, a much more modest proposal than strong atheism. Also, in terms of the principles that would adjudicate such matters as God being 'higher' in some sense, if by higher, you mean 'epistemically prior,' I would agree. But epistemic priority is not necessarily ontological priority. In my own opinion, all of thought arises out of some primordial acceding or trust, trust in one's own mind and in an unconditioned truth norm. These principles, I'd say, are 'higher' in some sense than any belief deriving from them because they act as a necessary precondition for thought. I can't see how they're chosen, unless you argue that one chooses to think.

Roger: I agree, but it is the universal scope of our adjudicating bedrock assumptions which gives them the same ontological status as God. They are just as recalcitrantly real, as mental objects, as any extramental object. They are epistemically (or epistemologically) inert, and yet pervasively affect all thought, including all thought concerning the real.

Concerning choice of beliefs, I merely mean that we often choose whether or not to be rational, or follow the dictates of reason, depending on the subject matter and the circumstances. I'm not finding any other place where I talked about choosing assumptions, but if I did just let me know. I did say, concerning our most basic assumptions that "they are always there nonetheless, and our minimal adherence even in the midst of defecting or attempting to defect from conformity to their strictures is telltale of their ultimacy."

So I agree that there is an unconditional primordiality of our irreducibly prior assumptions that renders them unchoosable, although many do choose to question or deny their foundational status, which is precisely what has happened in philosophy over the last 50-70 years in analytic and postmodern philosophy. But any anti-foundationalist view can be shown to derive its own explanatory adequacy only on the basis of foundationalism and can reject foundationalism only by means of a foundationalist approach. Post-modernism and analytic philosophies themselves implicitly depend on supervisory foundationalist assumptions merely to give their views theory status.

I do believe, however, that in the case of irreducibly basic background assumptions, their unique priority is as ontological as it is epistemic. Part of the reason for this is that they arbitrate ontology itself.

QUESTION: So you're saying that the ultimacy of these foundational assumptions is inescapable, even for those individuals pursuing an alleged 'anti-foundationalism'? I would definitely agree with that. And you're saying that the ultimacy of these bedrock assumptions as arbitrators about ontological questions, e.g. "Is there a God?" problematizes such questions, because these assumptions are as foundational as the questions they are being used to attempt to arbitrate? There is where you begin to lose me. Let me know if I'm following you so far.

Roger: Those background assumptions are part of the ultimate actuality because they arbitrate the ontology of everything including themselves. Consequently, they ultimately determine the outcome of any question including the question of the existence of God. They are therefore as godlike as anything can be, since they are the ultimate mind-ruling factors of belief. And it is the assumed relation of these assumptions to personal minds that is the key to why God must be construed as a person, and not just some principle of intelligence or the "actuality of thought" as Aristotle held. Principles exist only in minds and yet they are necessarily referenced by finite minds as in some sense separate and inert and determining all else as the criterial foundation of thought.

Ultimate assumptions determine the nature of personhood. To decide necessarily what is and is not a person is itself an act of personhood. So either the assumptions are not ultimate with regard to personhood, or else non-personal assumptions are somehow used as determinative of personhood, which begs the question. If the assumptions do in fact arbitrate the definition of personhood, they do what we normally consider possibly only by a personal mind.

Furthermore, it's difficult to know how a principle in and of itself could apply to persons unless there is some kind of personal aspect to that principle at the outset. To merely know a principle as something independent from persons and yet determinative of what constitutes personhood itself implies either an invisible intellectually-obligating friend or else some kind of non-intelligent intelligence, which not only begs the question all over again, but is self-contradictory. And if this can be allowed, then there is no difference between personal and non-personal in the first place, so the distinction between a personal God and impersonal God is an illusion, and therefore persons and rocks would qualify equally for the name. Hard to see how one can have it both ways here.

People can and do believe in God as being whatever they want, but the implicit arbitration status of the criteria for however they construe God remains an issue. If God is not a person, it's difficult to see how that being can influence persons without playing the role in some sense and to some degree. This is similar to faith beyond reason, which, as soon as it's distinguished from sheer credulity or dread or whatever, loses its beyond-reason status and is shown to be a rationally qualifiable notion after all, no longer insulated from analysis.

Another way of looking at it is: in how many aspects of my life would an allegedly magic rock have to influence me (or at least send me messages about) before it became relationally indistinguishable from a rock-embodied person telling me what to do?

QUESTION: I used the word 'problematize' because your account seems to lead to the conclusion that there is no mind-independent truth that we can know. That's a philosophically problematic claim.

'Problematize' also refers to the claim that these background assumptions determine the outcome of any question, so that besides a sort of rationalism, you also seem to claim some sort of determinism, but not one that operates at the level of physical causes, as most determinists would claim, but at the level of 'assumptions' or 'principles.' How could that possibly be?

"Problematize' also refers to the claim that we don't choose these assumptions - they're givens, so I assume they're universal for all reasoners. And yet there's this dizzyingly wide array of conclusions people come to on questions of God and everything else. Whatever factor(s) is contributing to this diversity of conclusions would strongly suggest that these background assumptions are not determinative after all.

Your account seems to contradict the sense I, and nearly everyone else, have of deliberating over and deciding on questions on the basis of consciously held reasons that have some sort of external content. Because your account contradicts most people's experience of their mental processes does not invalidate it but seems to require more of an argument than you've made so far.

Perhaps you're arguing for some sort of compatibilism, but what kind could that possibly be?

These background assumptions would have, at most, a regulatory function, but to regulate implies that there is something there that is being regulated. What is it that these assumptions refer to or represent? If nothing beyond themselves, then they're simply reiterating and ratifying themselves endlessly and purposelessly. 'Regulate' does not necessarily mean 'determine'. The rules of tennis regulate my game but don't determine my game or who wins. Driving rules don't determine where I drive.

Roger: There's mind-independent truth in the sense that the background assumptions never change but are presupposed, even in the case of a disagreement as to what they are. This is verifiable-falsifiable in the sense that one can express some statement, then list the reasons for that statement, then list the reasons for those initial reasons, then list the reasons for the reasons for the reasons of that first statement, until those ultimate criteria appear explicitly.

By 'determine' I mean that everyone necessarily assumes them as decisive, as the determiners of truth, even if honest people disagree as to the specific conclusions from them. This status, however, remains problematic since they are taken as pointers or criterial factors that somehow obligate minds to construe truth in one way as opposed to some other. The question is how a set of inert abstract objects can have any bearing on persons without thereby being personal itself.

This does not contradict people's experience of their mental processes. People's naive pre-theoretic or non-theoretic experience of their mental processes simply does not explicate the exact nature and role of their most basic assumptions, which is probably the source of a great deal of unnecessary disagreement.

These assumptions, which are necessarily taken together due to their mutual inferential relations (definitions, predicate calculus, value hierarchy within the system, meaning elements, and so on) , constitute an integral object whose status is indistinguishable from a mind. To differ on this point assumes that same architectonic as the intellectual authority for how to proceed, and so the question is begged all over again.

Again, to be clear, we use this construct as the determiner in the sense of a guide, much like the rule book for tennis. Specific applications may be controversial (and they are), but this does nothing to remove the rule book from consideration, or even diminish its status.

Concerning the regulatory functions of background assumptions, this is precisely the issue. How many regulatory statements could there be before one's regulated experience becomes indistinguishable from that of individuals who have an invisible friend or constantly hear voices telling them to do things? Because this set of assumptions is the universal instrumental regulator of mind, this is indistinguishable from a mind god.

The point is that what is required to determine whether or not an ultimate object must be construed as a person depends on what is meant by ultimate, what is meant by person, and on what basis one determines whether and how a nonpersonal object can influence a person beyond the influence of some obviously nonpersonal object such as a rock.
Objection: Assumption sets are not epistemologically or ontologically basic constituents of reality.  These necessarily presuppose the existence of subjects and owners of assumptions or assumption sets,  i.e., minds or persons.    An assumption set is a paradigm; paradigms do not have existence per se; they are ontological parasites on real, existing minds.  Adoption of a belief or a set of beliefs necessarily presupposes an existing mind, thus again, the order of existence and the order of knowing is that persons are basic not later in life adoption of beliefs, assumptions and paradigms.  Also, paradigms come and go, they undergo flux, and there are endless numbers of them.  Also, as your argument presupposes the existence of persons, these entities (!) are in need of being argued for these days as all forms of Physicalism -- except Panpsychism -- reduce them out of reality.  Thus arguments for the existence and nature of persons is basic to and prior to paradigmism.

My answer to this objection is that any argument assumes personhood already (or at least a discursive i/o entity, which is fine by me since even algebraic labeling would not change the issues), in much the same way that Descartes' doubt assumed an already-existing noncontroversial doubting agent or thing, and to have to refer to a set of criteria (non-cartesian object dualism) assumes a nonlocal object of mind, which to my way of thinking is all that God needs to be, to be fully theistic or even fully biblical for that matter. Moreover, such assumptions themselves seem to also be basic and necessary constituents of reality, precisely because they are required in advance to arbitrate such epistemological and ontological constituency.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Finitude and God

An awareness of God is present in the question of God. This awareness precedes the question. It is not the result of the argument but its presupposition. An awareness of the infinite is included in one's awareness of finitude. One knows that one is finite, that one is excluded from an infinity which nevertheless belongs to one. One is aware of one's potential infinity while being aware of one's actual finitude. If one were what one essentially is, if one's potentiality were identical with one's actuality, the question of the infinite would not arise. One must ask about the infinite from which one is estranged, although it belongs to one; one must ask about that which gives one the courage to take one's anxiety upon oneself. And one can ask this double question because the awareness of one's potential infinity is included in one's awareness of one's finitude.

The presence within finitude of an element which transcends it is experienced both theoretically and practically. The theoretical side has been elaborated by Augustine, the practical side by Kant, and behind both of them stands Plato. Neither side has constructed an argument for the reality of God, but all elaborations have shown the presence of something unconditional within the self and the world. Unless such an element were present, the question of God never could have been asked.

The unconditional element appears in the theoretic functions of reason as the true itself, the norm of all approximations to truth. It appears as the practical functions of reason as the good itself, the norm of all approximations to goodness.

The skeptic acknowledges the absolute element in truth in denying the possibility of a true judgment, and becomes a skeptic precisely because one strives for an absoluteness from which one is excluded.

Adapted from Paul Tillich
Systematic Theology

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Revenge of the Imaginary

The most basic assumptions are treated as an ultimate invisible friend.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

We Don't Need No Education

One great psychological advantage of resenting education is that it enables the willfully dependent to maintain the belief that society is permanently unjust and they are the permanent victims. If education were viewed as a viable means available for anyone to increase their standard of living, their entire i'm-a-victim-others-are-to-blame viewpoint would have to change. Instead of blaming others, they would have to endure the pain of looking inward. This is why getting an education in British lower-class schools is violently discouraged, and those who are studious are persecuted, even beaten. Getting an education is considered a threat. The success of one person is an insult to everyone else.

Adapted from Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass
by Theodore Dalrymple

Monday, August 10, 2009

Preliminary Backdrop Argument for the Existence of God

An inventory of our most basic irreducible assumptions and the role they play in determining belief and behavior, combined with the minimum requirements for an entity to be considered a person, imply that this assumption set is a single ideal personal entity who, given our purposive nature, is treated as God, with just as much objectivity, omniscience, authority, universality, obligation relations, and other ultimate characteristics, as any traditional idea of a personal God. And we do this necessarily.

As an example, we don't wake up in the morning wondering whether reason is going to be down, like we might wonder about our computer. We're going to approximate what it indicates and we are completely non-controversial about the authority of what it reveals to us. Furthermore, we merely need to contemplate these ultimates of mind such as reason, formal logic, and the rule-set of an ordered context of reality, in order to discover an endless stream of new knowledge when applied to our experience of the world. Consequently, there is some sense in which these ultimate fulcrums of thought actually communicate to us if we only think about them, just as the God of the Bible wants to guide believers into all knowledge. Lastly, the necessity of our valuing of these things implies both purpose and value, which are equally ultimate in this comprehensive set of guiding operational principles.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Chuck Norris Rides Again

"You can't model tolerance for certain minorities while belittling and quarantining those who don't blindly follow your lead."

Chuck Norris

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Protected Assumptions: Atheistic Anti-Intellectualism's Favorite Dance

All reasoned objections to belief in God ultimately depend on unargued God-like assumptions to which the objector must appeal for the same universal and ultimate authority over one's thinking that it was the purpose of the objections to challenge in the idea of God.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Strolling In Abstractions

I walked a mile with pleasure
She chatted all the way
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with sorrow
And never a word said she
But Oh! The things I learned from her
When sorrow walked with me.

Robert Browning Hamilton
"Along the Road"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

God of the Question

If you give reasons for believing in God, you've just admitted that you believe in a higher God, a conceptual personally-applicable truth-determining God, an ultimate authority referenced to adjudicate the issue.

And you yourself are the god of what to believe about the evaluation. You function in the image of God.

So reason itself becomes the God that provides the method for determining whether or not God exists. And you make the final god-like decision about God.

Atheism imitates belief in God but without attributing psychic unity or personhood.

Both believer and atheist assume God-like rules for minds, and play the role of God in order to determine whether or not God exists.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Darwin Time for Atheism

One can discover God by doing a simple inventory of (1) the assumptions we use to recognize an object as a person and (2) the assumptions that the principles of thought are authoritative, ultimate, adequate, universal, objective, and relate crucially to persons.

These assumptions are treated as a single personal object because we apply them to persons (ourselves, for example), and because we must assume them as a comprehensive integral unit of ultimate ruling factors that arbitrate what is true and what is real.

We also assume an ideal of personhood in using that set of ultimate interrelated assumptions through which we think.
And an ideal of personhood is an ideal person.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Unintended Consequences of Higher Education

"Are you jobless? Bored? Have a longboard or skateboard? Just so happens there's a pretty gradual slope though campus West to East, plenty of stairs and ledges. Also, by coincidence, most people sleep at night. Their loss is our triumph. Like rats, our kingdom is the unused."

--Skateboarder's Craiglist Ad

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Reminder for Atheism---By an Atheist

"People who believe something will always be stronger and more committed than people who believe nothing---which unfortunately describes the complacent passivity of most Western intellectuals these days."

Camille Paglia
"Obama's hit -- and big miss"
Salon, June 6, 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Question For William Craig

I am developing an argument for the existence of God that I believe is more immediately verifiable by ordinary people and in my experience is far more persuasive than the cosmological and other arguments. It is what I call the Backdrop Argument or the Argument from Background Assumptions. I necessarily reference God-like construance rules that govern my thinking about the total reality. By inventorying these referential assumptions and cross-assuming them as a system, I in many ways am referencing an object that is indistinguishable from a single ultimate mind, the truths about whom are exceptionless, universal, ultimate, and make possible my functioning as a person and my ability to recognize other objects as persons, including that referenced object itself. One can discover God by comparing an inventory of the assumptions we use to recognize other persons with an inventory of the universals and ultimate domain of mind-ruling assumptions we use to think any thought.

Unlike the ontological argument, this argument does not depend on a set definition or idea of God, but only on already-implemented assumptions that either presuppose or are themselves tantamount to an ultimate personal being.

I'm interested in what you think of this argument.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Why I Believe In God

The existence of God is a prior tacit assumption. The conscious manifestation of God as a person is for the most part lacking in the normal interaction we experience, especially in common with other limited personhoods, and therefore usually viewed as a mere list of principles or axioms. But the god-like nature of this universal rule-set is a suppressed notion of rationalistic atheism.

I necessarily reference God-like mind objects in accessing my own awareness. The total irreducible integrated object set is an intuitively cross-assumed system, in many ways indistinguishable from a single mind.

The total set of assumptions we use to be aware of reality is treated as the God of mind. Reason communicates through the statements that make up its definition, assumptions, and implications.

We reference our ultimate ruling factors as a single interrelated and self-supporting system, and therefore God is a single being, in addition to the fact that it would be impossible to distinguish between two or more such ultimate beings because of the absence of positable differences.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Chatting Up Atheists: Some Excerpts

Do atheist believe there's some kind of mind-god about what to think? Ultimate construance rules about the total?

If i were an atheist i wouldn't be throwing around implicit obligations about what to believe or what is true. Whining about religion as if on a crusade against evil.

A certain atheist concedes that religion contains goodness and badness, but not in equal measure
But the whole good/bad crusade is just the same god thing all over again. They claim that religion is a dangerous system of belief because of its ability to compel people to do things they otherwise wouldn't consider, caving to religion's moral do-goodism.

Yeah right, the belief god says no no no. I've always had assumptions that play a god role but which have no *logically* prior assumptions. I think a lot as an atheist even though the universal begs the question. How to construe the total is just as questionable as belief in god. God-belief determining factors are even more questionable than first-order belief in god or disbelief, and carry even more of a burden.

What standards decide the god issue? That's where the real god role is played out.

One objection is that there are so many religions with so many ideas of god that none of them could possibly be right. As if people differ on some math problem, therefore it can't be solved. A plurality of answers in math hardly means there's no answer possible. This would release all suspects in criminal cases where there was more than one suspect being considered. Multiple views do not imply there is no reliable principle of general reason.

Atheists as well as theists are more committed to avoiding the questioning of background assumptions than to their commitment to theism or atheism. There's nothing about multiple views that implies the impossibility of some one view being correct, just like in math or science, both of which are based on a mono-truth notion in some sense and to some extent.

I don't have any argument that excludes the possibility of cycles of kharmic rebirth *or* experiencing an everlasting hell of some kind upon my death.

Atheists and religionists walk hand in hand whistling past the same graveyard of background assumptions and values. It's a lot easier than talking about criteria.

One atheistic way of looking at truth is that if the belief merely survives, then it's true. That is, it's survival is an example of the truth of evolution, by combining consciously arbitrary aggressive willing with social darwinism. So if one killed all who differ, then by that fact one's beliefs would be proved true. To *need* reasons would on this view be a sign of weakness of will, etc. That's an undiscussed factor in the study of why some coercive societies have been so appealing. It relieves them of any intellectual burden, replaced by choosing to conquer without the need to justify any belief. To conquer would be seen as self-enhancing, evolutionary, and self-authenticating---create your own values. *Be* evolution by conquering others and thus refute their beliefs. Rank and file will not be so lofty but that would still the driving idea of the collectivist elites. If survival is the highest value, then truth is a function of that and nothing else. The highest value according to what? Whatever is chosen as the highest value. It doesn't have to be *according* to anything. That's the whole point, that to *need* a reason is to be weak.

Belief in that case does not need to be measured against anything. Sheer act of will makes things true. To whine about criteria would be a sign of weakness, you simply choose your own values and beliefs, nothing logically prior needed. To *need* criteria or reasons was a sign that you would not survive, were weak etc. You choose the belief without having little needs that you must obey like some thought commandment. No thought commandments, you merely choose, and aggressively eliminate those with differing beliefs. When sheer acts of will and survivability are the highest values, any reasoning except for personal and scientific advancement would be considered signs of weakness and impending extinction in the overall evolutionary process.

It's not even ascertained, you merely choose it, and acting to further one's survival dictates all other values, without the pedestrian need for any kind of justifying rationale. I'm not saying all atheism is that way or implies that, but there is in fact no argument that is even relevant to the nazi brand of atheism. To *need* reasons at the philosophical level was just a sign of weakness and even mental defect.

But it is true that each person is the arbiter of the meaning and the status of notions of truth. Everyone is the god of their own belief-choices, including beliefs about meaning, truth, etc.

As soon as you try to argue a point about god, you've just admitted some kind of neutral notion of truth or reason plays a god-role about the issue of god itself.

Criteria about truth plays god to all beliefs.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fragmentary Synthesis

Reflection begins with a collision between a system or order already in the mind, and some fragment that ought to be included in that system but remains outside of it.

A detective reflects on someone's death because there's a conflict between the fact that someone died and something already in the mind. Detectives order their experience by assuming that events have causes. This event challenges inclusion in that order. The detective makes it fit by first learning the details of the problem by reflecting and observing.

Observation is guided by what experience has taught about which details are relevant. Consequently, the detective pays more attention to bruises apparently made by some blunt instrument. The details are not obtained by focusing on a single point. The basis of a new thought must be broad. If the question was merely who might have used the blunt instrument, their would be an indefinitely large number of answers. The question is who must have done this in view of unemptied pockets, signs of a struggle, the butler's loyalty, and perhaps a hundred other things---all relevant details. A successful conclusion from a single factor alone would be an accident. The conclusion comes from all of them taken together.

The problem is to fit a detached fact into a complete surrounding system that is already assumed to be ultimate and decisive.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Laughing Lions

You train hard, you fight easy.
You train easy, you fight hard---and die.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Monday, May 04, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Ultra-Elegant Assumption Hider!

Pay no attention to those god-like universal assumptions behind the curtain.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just Say No to Spending

"When a man has money in his pocket, he appreciates peace."

Clint Eastwood
as The Man With No Name
A Fistful of Dollars

Friday, February 20, 2009

Starry-Eyed Illusion Hunting

It is the duty of philosophy to destroy the illusions which originate in misconceptions, whatever darling hopes and valued expectations may be ruined by its explanations.

Adapted from Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 1781

Behind The Curtain

To try to disguise oneself by assuming a popular style will not prevent one from falling into universal statements which were supposed to be impossible.

Adapted from Imannuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 1781

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pride Before Destruction

"I remain incredulous that any Democrat who professes liberal values would give a moment's thought to supporting a return of the Fairness Doctrine to muzzle conservative shows. (My latest manifesto on this subject appeared in my last column.) The failure of liberals to master the vibrant medium of talk radio remains puzzling. To reach the radio audience (whether the topic is sports, politics or car repair), a host must have populist instincts and use the robust common voice. Too many Democrats have become arrogant elitists, speaking down in snide, condescending tones toward tradition-minded middle Americans whom they stereotype as rubes and buffoons. But the bottom line is that government surveillance of the ideological content of talk radio is a shocking first step toward totalitarianism."

Camille Paglia
"A rocky first few weeks"
, Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Monday, February 02, 2009

Loitering Ghosts of Truth

A popular ethics wants to suppress bad expressions of character to protect the general welfare, which is strikingly similar to the police.

But the notion of general welfare is hardly a standard of truth. And truth forces its own expression even if it's ugly and unethical.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Third Eye

"As long as you consider the stars
as something above the head,
you will lack the eye of knowledge."

Fredrick Nietzsche

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stars of the Living Dead

"I do lament the gradual disappearance of small, quirky local [radio] shows due to the trend toward national syndication. And I often get bored and impatient with the same arch-conservative message being drummed out 24/7. But let's get real: Liberals have been pathetic flops on national radio -- for reasons that have yet to be identified. Air America, for example, despite retchingly sycophantic major media coverage, never got traction and has dwindled to a humiliating handful of markets. The Democrats are the party of Hollywood, for heaven's sake -- so what's their problem in mastering radio?

Instead of bleating for paternalistic government intervention, liberals should get their own act together. Radio is a populist medium where liberals come across as snide, superior scolds. One can instantly recognize a liberal caller to a conservative show by his or her catty, obnoxious tone. The leading talk radio hosts are personalities and entertainers with huge rhetorical energy and a bluff, engaging manner. Even the seething ranters can be extremely funny. Last summer, for example, I laughed uproariously in my car when WABC's Mark Levin said furiously about Katie Couric, "What do these people do? Open fortune cookies and read them on air?"

The best hosts combine a welcoming master of ceremonies manner with a vaudevillian brashness. Liberal imitators haven't made a dent on talk radio because they think it's all about politics, when it isn't. Top hosts are life questers and individualists who explore a wide range of thought and emotion and who skillfully work the mike like jazz vocalists. Talk radio is a major genre of popular culture that deserves the protection accorded to other branches of the performing and fine arts. Liberals, who go all hushed and pious at Hays Code censorship in classic Hollywood, should lay off the lynch-mob mentality. Keep the feds out of radio!"

Camille Paglia
Salon magazine, January 14, 2009


If reality can be explained by just a few protected and unargued factors, that explanation's own universals don't make any sense. And yet to be proposed as uniquely true among all perspectives, it must assume those universals nonetheless. But that explanation negates those universals by reducing everything to those few arbitrary factors.

All by dismissing other possibilities.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Absent Participation

This is distant. Only the few reach it. And they are delighted.