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Saturday, January 22, 2011

He's Wrong, Of Course

Vallicella: Is Death Evil?
... 3. So once again we end up in good old Platonic fashion, aporetically, at an impasse. There is simply no solution to the problem of whether death is evil without a solution to the underlying metaphysical question in philosophical anthropology: What is man? (The fourth of Kant's famous questions after: What can I know? What ought I do? What can I hope for?) And to the question What is man? there is no answer that can withstand the scrutiny of, and receive the endorsement of, all able practioners.

That is not to say that there is no correct answer. It is to say that, even if there is, one cannot know it to be correct. And if one cannot know it to be correct, then it is not an answer in any serious sense of the term.

So I arrive once again at the following long-held conviction. In the final analysis one must DECIDE what one will believe and how one will live. There is no evading one's doxastic and practical freedom and responsibility. ...
It's a pretty good essay, and I recommend it (but, keep in mind the ambiguity in his use of the term 'evil').

Yet, on this point he is quite wrong (and he will not be corrected, which is his real problem):
1) We are not at an impasse; we can know, via reason alone, that naturalism or materialism, or whatever term one wishes to use to denote God-denial, is false. That is, we can know, via reason, and distinct from the Christian revelation, that God is, and that God is personal, and that we are creations rather than accidents.
1a) There are only two possible general metaphysics; if we know that one is false, we necessarily know that the other is true, for the two are mutually exclusive, and there is no possible third.
2) If it *were* true that we are at the impasse Vallicelli asserts, then the act of making a DECISION, one way or another, cannot be justified. And is thus immoral.
2a) The 'agnostics,' who technically or theoretically maintain that no one is ever justified in making the sort of decision Vallicella (rightly) says we all must make, always do in practice make a decision as to which metaphysic they believe to be the true one, just as everyone else does. It is impossible for any normally-functional person to get through life without making that decision.


Crude said...

I very much agree with the claim that there is no evading this question. Ultimately we have to decide, either explicitly or practically.

People need to realize that.

Ilíon said...

Not only do we have to decide in which of the only two possibilities we each shall place our trust (our 'hope,' if you will), but as a practical matter we all do make the decision, and it is reflected in how we live our lives.