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Monday, August 25, 2014

Any port in a storm!

This post will be far too large to post as a comment in the commbox at Victor Reppert's blog (which is its context). Plus, it makes a good post in its own right. It grows out of the insistence of one 'Dan Gillson' that my "*you* are the proof that God is" argument begs the question, starting here
"GIVEN the reality of the natural/physical/material world, IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN everything which exists and/or transpires must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes."

... That is where you beg the question. You haven't sufficiently established that atheism entails materialism. You've assumed something that you have no right (logically speaking) to assume. As I've pointed out to you, atheism is compatible with other monisms, e.g., Strawsonian Panpsychism, or Jamesian Neutral Monism. One can deny God, but hold that what we call matter is both mental and physical (Panpsychism), or that what we call matter is neither mental or physical (Neutral Monism).
[Note: he has "pointed out that atheism is compatible with other monisms" ... and I have pointed out, multiple times, that this dodge just doesn't work; that these "other monisms" are either incoherent or are just smoke-and-mirrors attempt at disguising eliminative reductionist materialism.]

My response was:
Ilíon: "GIVEN the reality of the natural/physical/material world, IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN everything which exists and/or transpires must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes."

Dan Gillson: " ... That is where you beg the question. You haven't sufficiently established that atheism entails materialism. You've assumed something that you have no right (logically speaking) to assume."

As I said previously, "... you will never identify this alleged question-begging. ... you're asserting that I'm begging the question ... and the evidence that I'm begging the question is your assertion that I am begging the question."

Also, as I said previously, "Based on past experience, it seems that when an 'atheist' claims that a theistic arguement begs the question, all he means is that it successfully moves from premise to conclusion ... and that he hates the conclusion."

For anyone can see the that the argument summarized above does not beg the question of God-denial entailing materialism; rather, materialism is just a logical consequence of denying the reality (and personhood) of God while affirming the reality of the physical world.

"Eastern-style" atheism -- which *denies* the reality of the physical world -- does not entail "materialism". But it still denies that *we* are real, and it's still absurd.

It's the denial of the reality and personhood of God that makes (all) atheisms absurd, not the materialism that some of them entail.

Further, the discerning reader will notice that materialism is really irrelevent to the thrust of the argument. Rather, it is the mechanistic determinism inherent in denying that the necessary being/entity is aWho, rather than a what, that shows atheism -- all atheims -- to be absurd.

Dan Gillson: "As I've pointed out to you, atheism is compatible with other monisms, e.g., Strawsonian Panpsychism, or Jamesian Neutral Monism. One can deny God, but hold that what we call matter is both mental and physical (Panpsychism), or that what we call matter is neither mental or physical (Neutral Monism)."

How many times do you expect I am required to point out to you the utter failure of this attempt to escape the logical entailments of God-denial?

How can one coherently "hold that what we call matter is both mental and physical (Panpsychism)" when there is no such thing as "the mental" (or "Mind") if there are no actual minds? But if your hypothetical Panpsychism God-denier wishes to posit that there is an actual mind (or minds) who is/are fundamental to reality, then is he not affirming the reality of God while denying the reality of God?

How can one coherently "hold ... that what we call matter is neither mental or physical (Neutral Monism)" and yet escape the mechanistic determinism inherent in denying that the necessary being/entity is aWho, rather than a what? How can one coherently call oneself a "monist" unless one holds that 'matter' and 'mind' are the same thing? But, there is no such thing as 'mind' unless there is an actual mind, an actually existing who (or Who). But, definitionally, atheism denies there is a non-contingent Who; and we know that whos (ourselves) are contingent.

The fatal problem of atheism is not matter, it is not materialism. The fatal problem of atheism is the determinism -- the denial of agency and of agent freedom -- which inheres in denying the Creator-God. There can be no "mental" unless there is a mind; there can be no agent freedom unless there is an agent.

Mr Gillson made two posts as response --
Post #1 --
Ilion,

"For anyone can see the that the argument summarized above does not beg the question of God-denial entailing materialism; rather, materialism is just a logical consequence of denying the reality (and personhood) of God while affirming the reality of the physical world." ... It does beg the question because there is no further logical development of the point. Your argument takes materialism for granted. If you think otherwise, then copy/paste the portion of your argument in which you prove that materialism is a logical consequence of atheism.

"Further, the discerning reader will notice that materialism is really irrelevent to the thrust of the argument. Rather, it is the mechanistic determinism inherent in denying that the necessary being/entity is aWho, rather than a what, that shows atheism -- all atheims -- to be absurd." ... It's not irrelevant to your argument. In your argument materialism is the mediating step between atheism and determinism. You can't arrive at determinism without supposing a materialistic account of causation, but you haven't satisfactorily answered why atheism entails materialism. Indeed, you've begged the question.

"How many times do you expect I am required to point out to you the utter failure of this attempt to escape the logical entailments of God-denial? " ... As many times as it takes. I'm pretty thick.


Post #2 --
"How can one coherently "hold that what we call matter is both mental and physical (Panpsychism)" when there is no such thing as "the mental" (or "Mind") if there are no actual minds? But if your hypothetical Panpsychism God-denier wishes to posit that there is an actual mind (or minds) who is/are fundamental to reality, then is he not affirming the reality of God while denying the reality of God?" ... On a panpsychist conception, minds aren't fundamental to reality. Mentality and physicality are fundamental properties of matter, that is the base unit of matter (whatever that is) expresses both mental and physical properties.

"How can one coherently "hold ... that what we call matter is neither mental or physical (Neutral Monism)" and yet escape the mechanistic determinism inherent in denying that the necessary being/entity is aWho, rather than a what?" ... By saying that we don't, right now, know what 'matter' really is. We just see mental effects and physical effects, and we suppose that each of these effects originate from the same metaphysical cause.

"How can one coherently call oneself a "monist" unless one holds that 'matter' and 'mind' are the same thing?" ... Because 'matter' and 'mind' can be different properties subsisting in a singular reality.

"But, there is no such thing as 'mind' unless there is an actual mind, an actually existing who (or Who). But, definitionally, atheism denies there is a non-contingent Who; and we know that whos (ourselves) are contingent." A couple things: Firstly, your first sentence begs the question. Secondly, it depends on the atheism. An atheist can subscribe to theistic arguments, but reject divine personalities. One doesn't need to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

"The fatal problem of atheism is not matter, it is not materialism. The fatal problem of atheism is the determinism -- the denial of agency and of agent freedom -- which inheres in denying the Creator-God. There can be no "mental" unless there is a mind; there can be no agent freedom unless there is an agent." ... I don't think you've satisfactorily made your case yet. I'm happy to continue on, if you don't think it's a lost cause.
So, with the background laid out, here is my response to all that --

Ilíon: "For anyone can see the that the argument summarized above does not beg the question of God-denial entailing materialism; rather, materialism is just a logical consequence of denying the reality (and personhood) of God while affirming the reality of the physical world."

Dan Gillson: "It does beg the question because there is no further logical development of the point. Your argument takes materialism for granted. If you think otherwise, then copy/paste the portion of your argument in which you prove that materialism is a logical consequence of atheism."

I had already said, multiple times, that he would never identify nor demonstrate where or how the argument begs the question. I had already said, multiple times, that he would assert this, but never make an actual case. So, look at his most recent "case":
1) "It does beg the question because there is no further logical development of the point" -- What the Hell? When did that become part of the definition of question-begging?
2) "Your argument takes materialism for granted" -- The mere accusation again, raw;
3) "If you think otherwise, then copy/paste the portion of your argument in which you prove that materialism is a logical consequence of atheism" -- Oh, I see! Since he can't identify or demonstrate the question-begging that he just knows is there, he now demands that I demonstrate the lack of question-begging ... and for something that isn't even part of my argument.

Really, when you think about it, with his failure to identify the alleged question-begging in the original argument, his accusation of my begging the question has now devolved into the demand that I (and you) beg the question of whether the original argument begs its question.

As I said above, when an 'atheist' charges that a theistic argument begs the question, all he really means is that it successfully moves from premise to conclusion ... and that he hates the conclusion.

Consider the classic example of a sound and valid logical argument --
P1) All men are mortal;
P2) Socrates is a man;
C) Socrates is mortal.

Now, the conclusion is certainly implied by the premises -- it could not be otherwise and the argument still be a valid deductive argument; one might even say that the premises "contain" the conclusion. But the argument does not beg the question of whether Socrates is mortal.


So, to the argument that Mr Gillson (constantly and falsely) accues, though never demonstrates, of begging the question --

"GIVEN the reality of the natural/physical/material world, IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN everything which exists and/or transpires must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes."

Let's put this argument into the form of the "Socrated is mortal" syllogism --
P1) There is a real physical world comprised of time and space and matter/energy, including the spacial-and-temporal relationships between "bits of matter" -- this all men call 'nature';
P2) There is no Creator-God who creates-and-sustains in existence this real physical world; OR, to put it another way: there is no non-contingent personal entity/agent, who is ontologically-and-logically prior to 'nature', who freely causes the continuous existence of 'nature';
C) "everything which exists and/or transpires must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes."

As anyone can see, this argument no more begs the question than does the "Socrates is mortal" argument. Certainly, the conclusion is implied by the premises -- it could not be otherwise and the argument still be a valid deductive argument. But the argument does not beg the question of whether denial of the reality of the non-contingent "Necessary Being" -- who is a 'who' rather than a 'what' -- who is ontologically-and-logically prior to 'nature', who is the *cause* of 'nature', who freely *chooses* to cause 'nature' to exist, must resolve into rank mechanistic determinism -- which, in this context, is expressed as eliminative-and-reductionist materialism. There is no 'who' in P1), but only "purely physical/material states and causes"; P2) denies there is a 'Who' "behind" 'nature'; therefore, there can be no 'who' in C). That is, given the premises, the conclusion *must* deny that there is any agency -- that there are any agents -- anywhere.

But, we know that there *are* agent, for *we* are agents. Thus, we know that the conclusion of the argument is false. Thus, we know that the argument in not both sound and valid. Thus, one (and only one) of the following is, and must be, true:
1) the argument is sound, but invalid;
2) the argument is valid, but unsound;
3) the argument is both unsound and invalid.

Mr Gillson (as with every other God-denier I've ever encountered who attempts to take a shot at it) is asserting that the argument is sound, but invalid. That is, he is asserting that the premises are true, but that the conclusion is invalidly obtained. But -- again, as with every other God-denier I've ever encountered who attempts to take a shot at it -- he does not (and cannot) identify any flaw in the argument. He merely asserts that it is flawed ... and now demands that I prove the conclusion by some other argument.

Now, the truth of the matter is that the argument is valid, but unsound; that is, the conclusion does logically follow from the premises, but at least one of the premises is false.


Ilíon: "Further, the discerning reader will notice that materialism is really irrelevent [sic] to the thrust of the argument. Rather, it is the mechanistic determinism inherent in denying that the necessary being/entity is a Who, rather than a what, that shows atheism -- all atheims -- to be absurd."

Dan Gillson: "It's not irrelevant to your argument. In your argument materialism is the mediating step between atheism and determinism. You can't arrive at determinism without supposing a materialistic account of causation, but you haven't satisfactorily answered why atheism entails materialism. Indeed, you've begged the question."

(As with most 'atheists') I don't think he even *attempts* to understand anything that upsets his atheistic apple-cart. But, even if he has made an honest attempt to understand, he doesn't appear to have managed it. So, given that he doesn't even fathom the argument (whether by honest failure or by disinclination), simple though the argument is, does anyone really think I'll be quaking in my boots because he is squawking that it begs the question? especially considering that he never shoulders the burden of proof of identifying the begged question? and further considering that he's now trying to shift his burden of proof to me as a burden of disproof?

It is *not* the case that "In [my] argument materialism is the mediating step between atheism and determinism". Nor is it the case that "You can't arrive at determinism without supposing a materialistic account of causation"

Rather, materialism is the logical entailment of mechanistic determinism applied to a material/physical world; materialism is the expression of determinism in a material/physical world-- deny the reality of the physical world while denying the reality of God (or his personhood) and you're still stuck with determinism, though of a sort that may hard for embodied beings such as ourselves to comprehend. If it helps, consider arithmetic: it is entirely non-physical and utterly deterministic.

And, ultimately, determinism is just an aspect of denying the personhood and/or agency of the Creator-God. What I mean by this is that even if a person acknowledges some sort of necessary "First Cause" that it pleases him to call 'God', but denies that this "First Cause" is a person/agent, then he is asserting that all of reality is deterministic. He is asserting that determinism, rather than agent freedom, is fundamental to reality. Into this category fall all who insist that 'God' is a "force" or a "principle" (this last being especially incoherent, for a principle is a concept, and there are no concepts if there are no minds who think them).

Look again at the argument -- "GIVEN the reality of the natural/physical/material world, IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN everything which exists and/or transpires must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes." -- the materialism arises from applying the denial that there is a Person who is fundamental to the nature of reality to the acknowledgement that the physical/material world in which one finds oneself is a real world. This problem can't be escaped by positing that 'personhood' is fundamental to the nature of reality, any more than by positing that 'mind' is fundamental to the nature of reality; for there is no 'personhood' if there is no actually existing person, just as there is no 'mind' if there is no actually existing mind. 'Personhood' and 'mind' are concepts, they are ideas; they do not exist independently of some actually existing mind who thinks them.

There are some modern physicists who advance the idea that reality is at root mathematical. For that sort of metaphysic, one could restate my argument as: "GIVEN the reality of the [mathematical] world, IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN everything which exists and/or transpires must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely [arithmetic/logical] states and causes." -- the determinism resides in the denial of God's personhood, not in the affirmation of matter.

Consider again this claim -- "You can't arrive at determinism without supposing a materialistic account of causation" -- in light of the argument (in syllogistic form) --
P1) There is a real physical world comprised of time and space and matter/energy, including the spacial-and-temporal relationships between "bits of matter" -- this all men call 'nature';
P2) There is no Creator-God who creates-and-sustains in existence this real physical world; OR, to put it another way: there is no non-contingent personal entity/agent, who is ontologically-and-logically prior to 'nature', who freely causes the continuous existence of 'nature';
C) "everything which exists and/or transpires must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes."
Notice: given the premises, there is no possibility of causation that is not determonistic, for the second premise denies this possibility. The determinism doesn't come from the first premise, but from the second; for the second premise denies that there is anything in reality, or in the nature of reality, not covered by the first premise.

It is the second premise that entails the conclusion we know to be false.



Ilíon: "How can one coherently "hold that what we call matter is both mental and physical (Panpsychism)" when there is no such thing as "the mental" (or "Mind") if there are no actual minds? But if your hypothetical Panpsychism God-denier wishes to posit that there is an actual mind (or minds) who is/are fundamental to reality, then is he not affirming the reality of God while denying the reality of God?"

Dan Gillson: "On a panpsychist conception, minds aren't fundamental to reality. Mentality and physicality are fundamental properties of matter, that is the base unit of matter (whatever that is) expresses both mental and physical properties."

Oh, indeed: "On a panpsychist conception, minds aren't fundamental to reality", for a 'panpsychist' is just an everyday run-of-the-mill eliminative materialist (and there is no other kind) who, for some reason or another, doesn't want to acknowledge his eliminative materialism.

What does it even mean to say that "On a panpsychist conception ... [of reality, m]entality and physicality are fundamental properties of matter, that is the base unit of matter (whatever that is) expresses both mental and physical properties"? Why, it means nothing at all, the sentence (if we can even call the string of words a 'sentence') is literally meaningless; its purpose is to blow smoke to disguise or hide the truth that the 'panpsychist' is asserting materialism while denying that he is doing so.

If the sentence is to have any meaning at all, then whatever these "mental" properties of "the base unit of matter" are, they are not "physical" properties; for the mere structure of the sentence demands this. So, let's look at the last clause again: "... that is the base unit of matter (whatever that is) expresses both [non-physical] and physical properties" But, 'physical' encompasses 'matter', so what out hypothetical panpsychist is saying is: "... that is the base unit of [some physical entitiy] (whatever that is) expresses both [non-physical] and physical properties"

If I substute some other word for the words 'mentality' and 'mental' thusly: "On a panpsychist conception ... [of reality, gubd]ality and physicality are fundamental properties of matter, that is the base unit of matter (whatever that is) expresses both [gubd]al and physical properties" does the sentence really become any less meaningful than the original? Not at all.

While the individual words can be analyzed for meaning, string them together as here and it all falls apart into meaninless mush.

If the sentence is to have any meaning at all, then whatever these "mental" properties (or "gubdal" properties, it's all the same) of "the base unit of matter" are, they are not "physical" properties. But, if the sentence is to have any coherent meaning, then these "gubdal" properties can have no relationship to any actually existing "gubds" (or "minds", it's all the same), since, after all, "On a panpsychist conception, [gudb]s aren't fundamental to reality". These alleged "mental" (or "gubdal") properties are abstracted away -- which action is, itself, an activity of minds -- from any actually existing minds (or "gubds"), existing independently of, and logically prior to -- and, in fact, causally prior to -- any minds (or "gubds")



[to be continued]

4 comments:

Dan Gillson said...

Criminy. I hope you aren't expecting a quick response. I'll try to get you one by next week.

Dan Gillson said...

I gave your post a read through. I was going to show you where you begged the question, but instead I’ll just show you how your argument that atheism entails materialism is invalid.

You’ve attempted to do a categorical syllogism. A categorical syllogism has three terms: major, minor, and middle. Following the categorical syllogism model, we’ll call your first premise the major premise, which is, nature is the real physical world comprised of time, space, and matter/energy. The major term, which should appear as the predicate term in the conclusion, is the real physical world comprised of time, space, and matter/energy. We’ll call this p for predicate. We’ll call your second premise, there is no Creator-God who creates-and-sustains in existence this real physical world, the minor premise. We’ll shorten it up to, there is no God who creates and sustains nature. You’ve introduced the minor term, Creator-God, which should be the subject of your conclusion. We’ll call it g. Your middle term is nature. We’ll call it N.

So, so far, you have

N is p
there is no g who creates and sustains n

Oops! You defined what/who g is, and your middle term is part of the definition, but you didn’t relate the middle term to the minor term. Your middle term is undistributed, even in your expanded definition of g, therefore your argument is invalid. I’ll let that pass, we’ll move onto your conclusion

Everything that exists [i.e., N, for the sake of argument] must be wholly reducible, without remainder, to purely physical states/causes.

Firstly, that’s drawing an affirmative conclusion from a negative premise, which again invalidates your argument. Secondly, you’re using the middle term as the subject of your conclusion, instead of the minor term, which again invalidates your argument. Lastly, you’ve introduced something completely extraneous to your premises.

So, “As anyone can see” you conclusion doesn’t actually follow from your premises. Whether or not you’ve begged the question doesn’t matter anymore. Your argument is invalid.

Ilíon said...

Dan Gillson: "I gave your post a read through."

Riiiiight.

Dan Gillson: "I was going to show you where you begged the question ...."

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Dan Gillson: "... but instead I’ll just show you how your argument that atheism entails materialism is invalid."

How many times does it does it have to be said, and explained, that it does nothing of the sort? Give that you clearly decline to understand this simple point -- which means that you decline to understand the argument -- why, in Heaven's Name, would I spend any of my time (which looks like wasting my time) reading the rest of your post?

Dan Gillson said...

Ilíon,

I definitely was going to show you, but as I was writing my response, it occurred to me that your argument that atheism entails materialism is actually invalid, so I took a different tack. This argument ...

P1) There is a real physical world comprised of time and space and matter/energy, including the spacial-and-temporal relationships between "bits of matter" -- this all men call 'nature';
P2) There is no Creator-God who creates-and-sustains in existence this real physical world; OR, to put it another way: there is no non-contingent personal entity/agent, who is ontologically-and-logically prior to 'nature', who freely causes the continuous existence of 'nature';
C) "everything which exists and/or transpires must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes.


... is invalid because 1. you didn't distribute your middle term, 2. you drew an affirmative conclusion from a negative premise (P2), 3. your minor term doesn't factor into your conclusion, and 4. because you introduced something extraneous into your conclusion. Oh, and 5. your major term isn't part of your conclusion. It was a lot less work to prove the invalidity of your argument than to prove that you, logically speaking, assume a begged question.