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Friday, February 20, 2015

The Democrats weren't always

The Democrats weren't always the Treason Party (both slow and fast). But, at best, they have been worthless since the self-righteous soft-leftist, Wilson.

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Why mental states are not physical states

Victor Reppert has a recent small post, Why mental states are not physical states. As is his habit, or modesty, he doesn't take the idea he's (tentatively) exploring to its logical conclusion, which is that we -- embodied rational beings -- are the proof that God -- the unembodied Rational Being of all beings -- is.

In a comment to his OP, I do take the idea to that conclusion (of course), and I might as well share it with you (or course). But the *main* point of this post is to demolish the *denial* of what Reppert wrote --
Victor Reppert:
If mental states are physical states, then the truth about what someone believes should follow necessarily from the state of the brain/physical world. But it doesn't. If we line up all the physical facts, we have every atom traced, the argument from The brain is in state X therefore he must believe, say, that God exists, cannot follow necessarily. The state of the physical always leaves the state of the mental indeterminate. But what my thought is about is determinate, not indeterminate. Therefore my belief is not a physical state.

Me, taking the idea to its logical conclusion:
... and thereby do we know that naturalism and materialism and indeed atheism (*) is false.

(*) For, it isn't the physicalism that shows naturalism and materialism to be false, it is the determinism.
An even better word to have used than 'determinism', even if I have to coin it myself, is 'machinality'.

Contrary to the assertions of some of the God-deniers who admit the inescapable problem with 'materialism', yet vainly imagine that there is some 'atheism' out there free of the flaw (*), the flaw -- the logical entailment of the denial that we ourselves even *can* exist -- the flaw goes deeper than mere 'materialism'; the flaw is in God-denial itself.

What is at the heart of 'atheism'? What does it *mean* to say that "God is not"? The heart of 'atheism', the meaning of God-denial, is the assertion that there is no Person -- no Agent -- who is "the ground of all being". That is, whatever it is that may properly be said to be "the gound of all being", that thing is not a person, is not an agent, and, consequently, does not, and cannot, posses the properties that distinguish persons from non-persons and agents from non-agents.

One of the properties that distinguish persons from non-persons and agents from non-agents is freedom; in fact, freedom is the main characteristic of agency. As agent is active, rather than passive; and agent is not merely acted upon, but rather, acts. An agent is free to initiate novel causal-webs, rather than merely being acted upon by pre-existing causal-webs.

When God-deniers deny the reality of God -- deny that God, a Person, an Agent, is *the* fundamental reality -- then they are denying that it is even possible for there to be *any* agents and *any* persons. When God-deniers deny the reality of God, they are asserting that *everything* that is is a machine, a passively deterministic entity, whether or not it has any material component.

To deny the reality of the Divine Person(s) is also -- necessarily -- to deny the reality of human persons; this is why I keep saying that "You are the proof that God is!"

Some God-deniers try to get around that cardinal difficulty of atheism (and disproof of it) by ad hoc positing that perhaps 'Mind' or 'Consciousness' or some similar concept is "fundamental to reality", and as 'atheism', per se doesn't (appear to) deny the possibility, that therefore 'atheism' isn't seen to be necessarily false, and is off the hook for internal incoherence.

But, there is no such thing as 'Mind', nor any of the related concepts to which they ad hoc appeal, unless there is an actually existing mind. When the God-deniers try this particular stunt, what they are really doing is trying to after-the-fact smuggle God into the foundation of their world-view, via the cellar door, while continuing to shout out the front door and all the windows that there is no God.

(*) Not that they *ever* do more than vaguely wave their hands and declare the problem solved to their satisfaction.

John Moore, denying Repper's reasoning (as, being a God-denier, he *must*):
Yes it does. If we line up all the physical facts, with every atom traced, then we can see precisely what the brain believes. We can see how particular sensory inputs will activate particular neural pathways and eventually produce motor output such as a speech act saying "I believe X."

I wish I could understand why Victor says it doesn't. Please provide more explanation.

Looking at a computer circuit, we can see that particular inputs inevitably lead to particular outputs. That's how the electrical circuit works. The brain is also a kind of electrical circuit. It is hugely complex and made of different stuff, but the brain still looks entirely physical. If we knew what every atom was doing, we could predict exactly what the brain would do.
Let us try to pretend that Mr Moore really believes what he is asserting (he doesn't). Moveover, let us try to pretend that what he is asserting really is the truth about reality, and about human beings (it isn't). What would it *mean* were these things true? What would be the logical entailment of these assertions were they true?

Victor Reppert: "If mental states are physical states, then the truth about what someone believes should follow necessarily from the state of the brain/physical world. But it doesn't." (I suspect that Mr Reppet means something very different from what he actually wrote; but I also believe that most readers will *get* what he means.)

John Moore: "If we line up all the physical facts, with every atom traced, then we can see precisely what the brain believes. We can see how particular sensory inputs will activate particular neural pathways and eventually produce motor output such as a speech act saying "I believe X.""

By his *own* assertion, Mr Moore doesn't actually believe what he is asserting -- for, in the world-view he pretends to believe, there is no such thing, nor can be, as 'belief'. God-deniers *use* words such as 'believe' and 'choose', while emptying them of any meaning at all.

Rather, both he and Mr Reppert are simply making noises (or typing letters) because their particular brain-states, at this particular moment in the unfolding history of the material world, compel their mouths (or fingers) to produce those noises (or typed letters). In a moment, Mr Moore's brain-state may well change -- perhaps he will hear the sound represented by the letters "tomato", and that sound will set in motion a series of brain-state changes -- such that his brain-state will then compel him to "contradict" what he has just said.

Who can say? Certainly not Mr Moore, for he -- by his own admission -- knows nothing, nor believes anything, nor can do either.

If Mr Moore's assertion -- for he offers no *argument* -- (and the world-view behind it) were indeed true, then his act of asserting it is utterly meaningless, as is Mr Reppert's argument to the contrary.

Mr Moore is *explicitly* asserting that minds are produced by, are effects of, brains. He is *explicitly* asserting the he, and Reppert, and you and me, are machines. In this case, physical/material machines. He is *explicitly* asserting that we are passively determined at every instant by the prior history of the material/physical world. He is *explicitly* asserting that we do not, and cannot, choose to do this or that (recall: even if he uses that word, he first empties it of any meaning), but rather that whatever "speech act", say, we may perform is merely the mechanical-and-inevitable result of prior material states.

Usually, God-deniers try to not be this explicit about what God-denial actually entails.

Some semi-prominent 'atheists' like to make the devistating "argument" that Christians "belong at the kids' table"; for, after all, we persist in believing "irrational" things.

But, the truth is that until a man acknowledges that God is (which is a different matter from whether Jesus the Christ is God), he not only has no place a "the adults' table, but also not at "the kids' table". Rather, the God-denier belongs on the floor, with the other non-rational animals.

By the way, this is a little game of which God-deniers (and leftists and DarwinDefenders) are inordinately fond-- "I wish I could understand why Victor says it doesn't. Please provide more explanation." -- I call it "Deny and Demand": deny the explanation you have been given without ever engaging it, and demand another.

============ Edit 2015/02/08 ===============

Shackleman: "Granted, I think "emergence" lacks much merit, but I still think you've left room for them to retreat to it."

It only looks that way because people (you, in this case) are used to -- have been conditioned to -- allow them to do that. Somehow, materialists took over the intellectual life of the West two or three *centuries* ago. By this point in time, we're all so used to the implicit materialism into which we're born, that we rarely *examine* the underlying assumptions and entailments ... nor question the moves made by the intentional materialists.

Shackleman: "Have you not left room for the atheist to claim that agency can "emerge" from a universe which exists initially without agency? I think that's what they'd do, and point to "evolution" as the driving force to get them there."

'Emergence' is a Great Word of Magick amongst materialists and atheists. But, in reality, it's even more empty than the word 'instinct' used by butterfly col ... I mean, evolutionist biologists.

Allow me to first illustrate the issue by means of an aphorism (that I just made up) which is also an analogy and a metaphor -- "A tiger may emerge from a jungle ... proveded there is already a tiger in the jungle." (Do note my use of 'may': the tiger has some choice in the matter).

The atheist, whether or not he cops to being a materialist, who tries to escape this logical entailment of the denial of the reality and personhood of God (to wit: denial of the reality of the human person) by appealing to 'emergence' is akin to the man who states that there is no tiger in the jungle, but that, nonetheless, purely by chance occurrance, one might emerge from it at any time.

Now, consider this --

Let us posit the existence of some initial state of affairs, some world -- which may or may not be material (this point is important) (*) -- in which all events/occurrances are the mechanical effects of logically prior (**) events/occurrances. This is simple cause-and-effect: the logically prior event(s)/occurrance(s) is(are) the cause(s) of the logically subsequent event(s)/occurrance(s), the effect(s), necessarily.

Thus -- for this is just another way of stating the above paragraph -- given the condition of this 'world' at state 'S0', then it is mechanically inevitable that its condition at state 'S1' will be as it will be. That is, state 'S1' is fully determined by state 'S0'. This necessarily applies no matter which state one chooses to account as being state 'S0'.

Look again at what Mr Moore said -- what I have said above is *exactly* what he said, just more general-in-application, less linked to materialism, and more precisely stated.

But, notice: this world I have described is merely an abstract description or model of what the 'atheist' claims is true of *this* world, and of us. This world I have described is the theoretical instance of what the 'atheist' says is the truth about the particular instance in which we find ourselves -- thus, if the theoretical instance cannot fully account for the particular instance, then the theory is at best incomplete. The theory may also be flat-out wrong.

So, which is it? Is the 'atheist' theory flat-out wrong, or is it just incomplete? (Hint: it's flat-out wrong)

Look again at the theory -- state 'S1' is fully determined by state 'S0'. Thus, state 'S2' is fully determined by state 'S1', and state 'S3' is fully determined by state 'S2', and so on, world without end.

When the 'atheist' tries to appeal to 'emergence' to "explain" the existence in this theoretical world of entities which are *not* fully determined by the world's prior states, then he is rendering his theory-of-the-world incoherent --which is to say, Self-contradictory, which is to say, necessarily false (and not merely incomplete). For, while a set of self-consistent statements may be nonetheless false, no set of self-contradictory statements can ever possibly be true.

When the 'atheist' tries to appeal to 'emergence' to "explain" the existence in this theoretical world of entities which are *not* fully determined by the world's prior states, then he is saying that somewhere between state 'Sn' and state 'Sn+1' a *POOF* occurs, and out of absolutely nowhere, with absolutley no cause, that which was never in the world, not even as a potential, just appears.

And, of course, if the inattentive listener lets the 'atheist' get away with that bit of Magick, it turns out that the "agency" he has poofed into the world isn't *actually* agency: it's just the word 'agency' applied to mechanical necessity. As I said before, 'atheists' do (and must) empty such words of content and meaning, for the meaning contradicts their world-view.

(*) This 'world' may, or may not, be wholly material, or at least have a material component along with an immaterial component, ot may be wholly immaterial -- it doesn't matter. All that matters is that this world is logically consistent, that no part of it contradict the whole; for, if it is not logically consistet, if it is not coherent, then it cannot be a world.

(**) And perhaps temporally prior, but that's not important; just as this 'world' may be wholly immaterial, so, too, may it be a-temporal. All that is absolutely required of it is that it be logically consistent.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015


If Gentle Reader spends any on-line time around adherents of the Roman heresy (*) (and how can he not? they're everywhere!), he is bound, sooner or later, to encounter gasps and denunciations (**) of some great (supposed) sin called "usury" (as, see this recent thread at Malcolm the Cynic's blog).

My thesis here is that Romanism is all wet about "usury", and, moreover, that historically it was entirely hypocritical about the strictures it placed, in the guise of combating "usury", upon the societies which swore allegiance to the bishop of Rome.

When Roman heretics are trying to argue (to the limited extent that they do ever argue in support of their errors) against the charging of interest, and ultimately against your and my freedom to spend our time as we wish, they will call as witness the several instances in the Old Testament wherein God forbids the Israelites to make loans to their brother Israelites at "excessive interest". This tack is ironic -- and frequently hypocritical (***).

Oddly, the Romanist who points to Deuteronomy in condemnation of "usury" tends to ignore the rest of the verse; for, in almost every case in the OT in which God forbids "excessive interest", the reason for the condemnation is given with the condemnation -- that you do not reduce your brother to slavery.

Apparently, God is very concerned with the *freedom* of his people, not just collectively, but also individually. The RCC, not so much.

But, we capitalists have bankruptcy laws -- it is impossible for the legal charger-of-interest, that is, the one who is able to operate his business in the light of day, to reduce his "customers" to a state of slavery. It is only the illegal charger-of-interest -- who even has a market in which to operate in the first place precisely because of "usury" laws (****) -- who is able to turn his "customers" into slaves. This also relates to the Roman heresy's hypocrisy about "usury" that I mentioned up front.

The other main leg upon with the Romanist tries to argue against "usury" is by an argument from Saint Thomas Aquinas, the gist of which is that the charging of interest amounts to fraud since it involves the interest-collector selling to the interest-payer "something that doesn't exist".

Look, Thomas was undoubtedly a genius, but even he was just a man and was susceptible to a popular error, and official error, just as any other man is. And by the time of Thomas, bodies within the structure of the RCC were turning a tidy profit by exploiting the Romanist hypocrisy concerning "usury".

Consider (as, apparently, Thomas did not): by the Law of Moses, when an Israelite "sold" his land to another Israelite, what was he *really* selling him? He wasn't *actually* selling the land, for come the Year of Jubilee, the custody of the land must return to the original owner or to his heirs. What he was selling was the future harvests, or, as Thomas might put it, "something that doesn't exist".

So, in the end, his arguments (to the extent he even tries to argue) being shown ungrounded and futile, the Romanist is reduced to sputtering something the Mysterium (*****) forbidding "usury", and that's good enough for him (and should be good enough for you, too). In other words, he falls back to attempting an argument from authority against someone who rejects the assertion of authority in the first place (******).

(*) What? It "offends" you that I apply to you -- and with far more justification -- the same language you apply to me? Surely, by now, you ought to understand that I don't give a rip whether anyone is "offended" by what I say.

(**) Frequently, these denunciations of "usury" are in the context of denigrating and denouncing what we call "capitalism" -- which is so say, these adherents of the Roman heresy are denouncing and denying others' God-given freedom to use their own labor, their own lives, as they see fit.

Hell! So great is the hatred of The One True Bureaucracy for "capitalism" -- which is too say, hatred for individual freedom, and the natural result of that freedom -- that one will sometimes see Rah! Rah! Catholics speculating that perhaps they can make common-cause with "the old left" -- you know, Lenin, Stalin, Mao ... Hitler -- in the battle against capitalism.

(***) When an Evangelical points to the Word of God as the basis of his reasoning, the adherents of Rome not infrequently accuse him of "proof-texting". So, depending on whether this particular Romanist does that, his move is either ironic or hypocritical.

(****) The only reason -- ever -- that there is a "black market" for this or that is because someone is using governmental force-and-violence to control or suppress whatever natural market for it exists. Observation of this inescapable fact is not the same as saying that no markets should ever be suppressed.

(*****) just in case it's not obvious, "Mysterium" is intentional

(******) Oddly enough, Romanists generally like to laugh about, and point fingers at, the stereotype of, say, a Southern Baptist, who "argues" against an 'atheist' by quoting Bible verses.

Now, about my charge of historical hypocrisy by the RCC concerning "usury" --

It all goes back to the mortgage; for the origin of that particular financial device was as a means to allow bodies within the Romanist bureaucracy to charge excessive interest to laypersons while pretending to honor the Romanist strictures against "usury".

Over several centuries of invasion and conquest by barbarian pagans, followed by conversion to Christianity of the sons of those pagan conquerors, followed by generous donations of estates to various bodies within the Roman hierarchy by the sons and grandsons of those pagan conquerors -- and coupled with Rome's refusal to pay taxes (however taxes were accounted in any particular realm) to the secular rulers (*) -- eventually "the church" had become a major, if not *the* major, landowner throughout western Europe.

Once things had settled down a bit, the question arose of how to invest the income of these religiously-affiliated properties ... without openly charging interest (**). One solution was the 'mortgage'. And how that worked is that a religious institution would lend money to a noble, who would in exchange turn over all the income from one or more of his properties to that institution until he was able to repay the original loan by some other means. And you can be sure that most landowners (or their heirs) repaid those loans many times over before the 'mortgage' was paid off; all without "the church" technically charging interest on the loans.

(*) This refusal by the Roman hierarchy to pay the same taxes that secular landowners owed the king is an important contributing factor in the *next* wave of barbarian pagans steam-rolling over the existing state.

(**) Which goal, by the way, is what the "Moslem finance" of which one sometimes reads these days is about: collecting handsome rates of interest on loans of money while *pretending* to do no such thing.

It's a perennial human quest: we place unnecessary strictures upon ourselves -- and especially upon others -- in the Name of God, and then expend vast amounts of ingenuity looking for ways around those strictures.

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Feminist Humor!

One of my sisters shared a (feminist, actually) cartoon on Facebook, and I have a comment to make about the (supposed) joke --

In case Gentle Reader's browser is unable to open that Facebook page, here is the joke:
Husband: I'm the MAN of this house, so starting tomorrow I want you to have a hot, delicious mean ready for me the second I walk through that door ... Afterwards, while [I'm] watching ESPN and relaxing in my chair, you'll bring me my slippers and then run my bath ... And when I'm done with my bath, guess who's going to dress me and comb my hair?

Wife: The funeral director.
Sure, the cartoon funny ... but only because either:
1) one has bought into the feminist lie about what being "the man of the house" means and the underlying lie about the relationship(s) between a husband and a wife; or,
2) one understands the lie, even while rejecting it, and thus understands why others think the cartoon so funny.

The truth is, the attitude depicted in, and spread by, this cartoon -- "I'm too good to serve any man (to whom I'm married, or for whom I work)" -- that open-and-continual *hostility* to proper authority when the authority-holder is a man, is precisely why most American women are so miserable (*).

On the other hand, were the guy her "boyfriend" (**), rather than her husband -- that is, rather than being the man who has publicly committed his life and work to serving her and the children who naturally result from the marital union, were he instead just some guy for whom she puts-out .. in the "hope" that putting-out will somehow get him to commit his life and work to serving her ... and who, not being her husband, consequently has no proper authority over her -- she'd be jumping at the opportunity to do all these "demeaning" tasks, and more.

(*) Which misery is, for the real/deliberate feminists, mission accomplished: they hate men and manhood/masculinity, because they hate womanhood/femininity and want to be men themselves. Since they don't want ot be women, and *can't* be men, they've settled for persuading normal women to make themselves (and those around them) miserable.

(**) isn't it just a bit ridiculous to be using the words "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" at that age?

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