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Old 12-15-2016, 10:14 PM   #101
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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Originally Posted by well named View Post
Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest that they were similar as arguments. I was free associating a little bit, you might say. The topic of the thread is "an alternative cosmological argument", and tame_deuces writes:



and this reminded me of the simulation argument. Not because it's a similar argument, but because it's a conjecture about beings creating universes. I might also say that the simulation and fine tuning arguments are vaguely like ontological or cosmological arguments in the sense that people seek for explanations of why we find the world the way it is rather than some other way. They all entail some kind of search for a larger context in which the universe makes sense.
This might already exist, but I think it likely that at some nearish point in the future many people will argue that just as terms like "free will" and "consciousness" have been reinterpreted to be consistent with scientific naturalism, that "god" should as well, and should refer to whoever/whatever wrote the universe's source code.
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Old 12-16-2016, 12:23 AM   #102
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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<snip>
And as far as the second point, I understand the objection, but still cling to my original thesis. I find "God beyond logic" to be a derivative, not an appendage, of the cosmological argument. There are two paths for this reasoning that you might find persuasive.

First, logic regresses to the point of axioms and postulates; beyond that, it descends into circularity or infinite regressions. Because we are seeking absolute philosophical certainty (as opposed to 'maximal' certainty), those axioms and postulates cannot be our stopping point (this is essentially the concept of fallibilism, which I previously expressed through the idea of an absence of an absolute point). Enter the cosmological argument: it posits the unmoved mover, a force/entity that is beyond the axioms and postulates of logic as the fundamental origin of everything (including logic!). If God is bound by logic, then God is no true answer to the first principle dilemma because then God would be subject to the same logical strictures of circularity and infinite regression (and those are precisely the reasons why the cosmological argument was conjured up in the first place).
What do you think is the first principle dilemma? Is it that the Principle of Sufficient Reason or First Cause (i.e. that there are no brute facts or uncaused objects/actions/ideas?) seems incompatible with a purely naturalistic world?

I would argue that the PSR has little to do inherently with logic. Logic doesn't demand the Principle of Sufficient Reason and is not enough on its own to derive the cosmological argument.

Also, I can't help pointing out the odd structure of this argument. It says that in order to achieve absolute philosophical certainty we need to posit the existence of a first cause outside of logic. However, it readily acknowledges that our knowledge of this first cause existing is fallibilistic and uncertain. So why are we positing something to fill in an uncertainty gap then?
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The other path of reasoning yields the same conclusion and is a bit more direct. The unmoved mover/force is posited as being bound by nothing and preceded by nothing, including logic, on account of being primal to all (the "alpha and omega", so to speak). From this derives the only essential characteristic of the concept of God: omnipotence. If God is bound by logic, God is not omnipotent because God bows to the tenets of logic (again, we can posit all of this, including omnipotence, because there is no absolute point with which we have to contend here! It's essentially the reason why we have the "omnipotence paradox", i.e., because omnipotence, in its pure form, completely violates the tenets of logic we hold near and dear!).
A couple comments.

1) This is a self-defeating interpretation of the argument. You posit that God is not bound by logic. If so, then any logic that allows reference to god will be prey to the principle of explosion and thus fails to establish its thesis.

2) The classical and medieval philosophers most associated with this argument (Plato, Aquinas, Aristotle) would all have rejected your characterization of the First Cause as being outside or unbounded by logic.
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Old 12-16-2016, 02:26 PM   #103
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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This might already exist, but I think it likely that at some nearish point in the future many people will argue that just as terms like "free will" and "consciousness" have been reinterpreted to be consistent with scientific naturalism, that "god" should as well, and should refer to whoever/whatever wrote the universe's source code.
Within Christianity, there do exist theologians whose views seem to point in this direction. I would count some of Panikkar's work, for example, although he probably would chafe at using "source code" as a primary metaphor. Some of Panikkar's contemporaries in the catholic church had similar motivations, like Bede Griffifths or Henri Le Saux, and then I think maybe of people like John Henry Spong.

However, it's not clear to me that it's likely for those kind of views to catch on with Christians. I'm not sure I'd bet on liberalization to win out over the rise of the "nones" for example. If there's a developing atheistic worldview in the west it's not clear to me it will find it valuable to reimagine the meaning of "god" rather than just rejecting it. Outside of Christianity (and Islam?) maybe it's easier? I think (for example) symbolic interpretations of deities are not uncommon among some practicing Hindus.
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Old 12-16-2016, 02:50 PM   #104
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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Within Christianity, there do exist theologians whose views seem to point in this direction. I would count some of Panikkar's work, for example, although he probably would chafe at using "source code" as a primary metaphor. Some of Panikkar's contemporaries in the catholic church had similar motivations, like Bede Griffifths or Henri Le Saux, and then I think maybe of people like John Henry Spong.

However, it's not clear to me that it's likely for those kind of views to catch on with Christians. I'm not sure I'd bet on liberalization to win out over the rise of the "nones" for example. If there's a developing atheistic worldview in the west it's not clear to me it will find it valuable to reimagine the meaning of "god" rather than just rejecting it. Outside of Christianity (and Islam?) maybe it's easier? I think (for example) symbolic interpretations of deities are not uncommon among some practicing Hindus.
I meant "source code" more literally than you are taking it. I mean, I think it likely that the simulation argument will become more widely accepted among intellectual sorts and that many of them will believe this is a scientific formalization of the concept of god as distinct from the folk theories about god found in revealed religions.
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Old 12-16-2016, 04:12 PM   #105
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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I meant "source code" more literally than you are taking it. I mean, I think it likely that the simulation argument will become more widely accepted among intellectual sorts and that many of them will believe this is a scientific formalization of the concept of god as distinct from the folk theories about god found in revealed religions.
I misunderstood you. Sorry about that. What you're suggesting doesn't seem that likely to me but I wouldn't be very confident in my prediction either way, and it's not based on much.

Intellectually It's not clear to me that the simulation arguments adds much to hold anyone's interest over just concluding the existence of the universe is a brute fact. In other words, I think intellectual sorts may be more likely to make an argument similar to the one you made to Lychon about the PSR in response to the simulation argument, assuming that it remains unfalsifiable.
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Old 12-16-2016, 04:22 PM   #106
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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I misunderstood you. Sorry about that. What you're suggesting doesn't seem that likely to me but I wouldn't be very confident in my prediction either way, and it's not based on much.

Intellectually It's not clear to me that the simulation arguments adds much to hold anyone's interest over just concluding the existence of the universe is a brute fact. In other words, I think intellectual sorts may be more likely to make an argument similar to the one you made to Lychon about the PSR in response to the simulation argument, assuming that it remains unfalsifiable.
You have the same intuitions as I here, but are not putting them together. I agree, intellectual sorts will respond to the simulation argument with arguments like mine against the cosmological argument. This is because there is a recognizable similarity between the simulation argument and philosophical theology. But philosophical theology is really attractive to humans, including intellectuals. It isn't very intellectually respectable right now because people think it is unscientific, but the simulation argument is not unscientific. Thus, if it becomes more widely accepted (which I think it will if you look at the people who currently take it seriously), people who are naturally attracted to philosophical theology will try to build a theology around it and other arguments from information theory.
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Old 12-16-2016, 04:33 PM   #107
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

"people who are attracted to philosophical theology"

All 20 of us?

You might be right though, maybe there would be more people attracted to it if it didn't seem fundamentally unscientific. I may underestimate that.
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Old 12-16-2016, 05:21 PM   #108
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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You have the same intuitions as I here, but are not putting them together. I agree, intellectual sorts will respond to the simulation argument with arguments like mine against the cosmological argument. This is because there is a recognizable similarity between the simulation argument and philosophical theology. But philosophical theology is really attractive to humans, including intellectuals. It isn't very intellectually respectable right now because people think it is unscientific, but the simulation argument is not unscientific. Thus, if it becomes more widely accepted (which I think it will if you look at the people who currently take it seriously), people who are naturally attracted to philosophical theology will try to build a theology around it and other arguments from information theory.
Information must be retained/stored (memory) and be transmitted between beings/entities/material to be of any consequence. This would be a great thread discussion. I have conjectured up some thought experiments on my own about this. Memory (which includes the retention of information) is of such primary importance that I'm baffled it does not come up more often in philosophical discussions.
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Old 12-17-2016, 08:07 PM   #109
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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What do you think is the first principle dilemma? Is it that the Principle of Sufficient Reason or First Cause (i.e. that there are no brute facts or uncaused objects/actions/ideas?) seems incompatible with a purely naturalistic world?
The first principle dilemma, most plainly, is a derivative of philosophical skepticism: what is certain beyond question (i.e., absolute philosophical certainty)? It is related to, though not equivalent with, the Principle of Sufficient Reason. The PSR is a presupposition; the first principle dilemma discounts any presupposition that lacks absoluteness and seeks to identify something that is immune to skepticism. Naturalism is irrelevant (the purview of the dilemma is well beyond any such pragmatically oriented limitation).

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I would argue that the PSR has little to do inherently with logic. Logic doesn't demand the Principle of Sufficient Reason and is not enough on its own to derive the cosmological argument.
Again, this is not exactly on point, but I'll address it: considering the close relation between the ex nihilo contention and the PSR, I would argue the exact opposite (at least on your first point of the PSR having "little to do inherently with logic"). As the OP has pointed out, employing logic to provide a cure for skepticism, whether relative to the cosmological argument or anything else, leads to infinite regression. For this reason, the stopping point for logical discovery is seated in axioms and postulates: self-evident and/or unquestionably assumed propositions that are intrinsically necessary in the absence of an absolute point, i.e., they are automatically and inherently appointed as de facto absolutes so that reason can function. It is the realization of this unbroken logical chain (from axiom/postulate onward) that gives rise to the PSR, and also what gives rise to the first principle dilemma (on account of questioning the very axioms/postulates upon which logic rests).

As far as your second point ("[logic] is not enough on its own to derive the cosmological argument"), the statement is rather muddled due to the various senses that the term "logic" can embody. If we're still speaking of formal logic, then yes, the cosmological argument is not derived directly from logical axioms or postulates (or their derivatives). Rather, it arises through the application of skeptical theory to the logical axioms/postulates: because logic provides no satisfying answer to the first principles dilemma, it leads to the presupposition of the unmoved mover (which is "logical" in a more colloquial sense, though can also be argued to be logical in a formal sense if the discussion is expanded beyond basic propositional logic).

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Also, I can't help pointing out the odd structure of this argument. It says that in order to achieve absolute philosophical certainty we need to posit the existence of a first cause outside of logic. However, it readily acknowledges that our knowledge of this first cause existing is fallibilistic and uncertain. So why are we positing something to fill in an uncertainty gap then?
What a puzzling declaration- I fail to find what is "odd" about the structure of the argument in question. Logic fails to provide an answer to the question of absolute philosophical certainty, therefore it leads to the concept of the "unmoved mover" (i.e., the cosmological argument) who is beyond logic. Where is the oddness? (Unless, by "odd", you mean contrary to standard experience and thought, which is really not at all "odd", given that we are discussing first principles in the face of infinite logical regression).

Also, I don't see where I stated that this first cause is "known". The only real contention here is that the first cause is beyond logic, which would actually point to the opposite, i.e., that it is unknown, given that the human mind cannot readily, if at all, comprehend the possibility of such a notion (which, of course, does not defeat the idea because the mind simultaneously realizes the lack of any absolute point in logic, hence the dilemma!). The cosmological argument provides a conceptual framework for answering the first principles dilemma: there was an unmoved mover who gave rise to logic (and everything else). Nothing about this mover is "known", and nowhere have I argued for any degree of certainty, much less absolute, that such a mover really exists. If had made such contentions, than perhaps your counter here would make more sense. As it is, it does not.

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A couple comments.

1) This is a self-defeating interpretation of the argument. You posit that God is not bound by logic. If so, then any logic that allows reference to god will be prey to the principle of explosion and thus fails to establish its thesis.
No, it is not a self-defeating interpretation in the slightest. This counter is, in essence, a straw man argument that actually strengthens my conclusion by demonstrating the failure of the speaker to appreciate the question at hand, i.e., the first principles dilemma, which specifically contends with the failure of the logical axioms/postulates to provide an absolute cure to skepticism. Positing a force/entity as beyond logic does not undermine the integrity of logic because such a force/entity ("unmoved mover") is conceptually valid in only one area of thought: first principles beyond logic. They are not "contradicted" by logic in any traditional sense because they exist, if at all, without logic (or "beyond"). That is the cosmological argument, and it does not have specific application beyond the logical axioms/postulates that serve as the basis for reason to function (the "principle of explosion" counter is a fairly boilerplate response to the CA that has been lampooned innumerable times for missing the point being discussed).


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2) The classical and medieval philosophers most associated with this argument (Plato, Aquinas, Aristotle) would all have rejected your characterization of the First Cause as being outside or unbounded by logic.
It's not too surprising that you would reference philosophical giants after failing to provide a substantively valid retort against my position on your own (no doubt to endow your refuted position with a veneer of legitimacy), but it's a rather malapropos and distasteful argumentative strategy to pursue, especially given that your characterization of how bygone thinkers would have interpreted this polemic is questionable (though still not substantively relevant).

Again, because of the differentiation between absolute and maximal certainty (reread my previous posts carefully for more details on this distinction), and because maximal certainty (i.e., grounded in the logical axioms) is inherent and automatic to reason, there is noting nothing self-defeating about the idea that God (or whatever you wish to call the "first cause") is beyond logic whatsoever. Indeed, the idea is necessary for the cosmological argument to have any kind of value as an answer to the first principles dilemma (otherwise, it provides not much more than what the Big Bang already does).

Now, I understand that you may have interpreted this argument as a direct threat to your worldview (and it very much is), but I would hope that going forward you can argue and defend your position on the merits instead of quarantining your responses to the very same assumed presuppositions that your interlocutor is questioning .
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Old 12-17-2016, 11:09 PM   #110
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

What place does "judgment" have in the logical concatenation ?

What place does "perception" have in the logical concatenation ?

Why does one proceed from a skeptical position to attempt to prove a concept ? If skepticism has its place and way then its folly to even bring any positive findings in any matter, shape or form.

Skepticism, by its very nature, can never act as the basis of the positive but can only sink the tenor of thought into a crass cynicism but no more.

Logic was never meant to "prove" but is the human experience of the concatenation of thoughts which exist within their own right and the human thinker experiences the same.

The "unmoved mover" or "first cause" can be experienced by the thinker but it doesn't necessarily mean that the entire "warp and woof" of that "unmoved mover" will present itself in totality. If one is able to proceed within "sense free thinking" into that realm the deeper realm of "judgment" can be accomplished by the individual man.

"Judgment" can be accomplished by men who are "not aware" of the particular realm of "judgment" yet this man can come to a judgmental conclusion of the "good and the true". As an example the human being digests but certainly doesn't know of the powers within for this realm is not evident to our normal perceptions.

"Judgment" and "logic" are within two (2) different realms . One can certainly make a "judgment" of an "unmoved mover" as a universal truth within the good.

As a study, attempt to do the opposite and do a "untruthful logic" and arrive at the " mover" . Actually, this has been done, by Dionysus the Areopagite in which in his concatenation of thoughts he denies any of the qualitative statements of the nature of God , he, the individual man, enters into the darkness and into the light of the divine;The One, the Unknown, the Super Existing Self Essential Good, the Nameless cause of all.

Dionysius also speaks to "Divine Names" in which he proceeds through the world of the Divine and clarifies the higher beings(read angelic beings) in this net of immortality.

http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/ar...vine_names.htm

More to the point, the intellect and discriminates and splits the object of comprehension and reason at a higher level travels the individual thoughts in a larger "idea" which is a spiritual reality. This "traveling" is what one calls "logic" which is thought through in this:

"In thinking I experience myself united with the stream of cosmic existence ".
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Old 12-18-2016, 12:43 AM   #111
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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The first principle dilemma, most plainly, is a derivative of philosophical skepticism: what is certain beyond question (i.e., absolute philosophical certainty)? It is related to, though not equivalent with, the Principle of Sufficient Reason. The PSR is a presupposition; the first principle dilemma discounts any presupposition that lacks absoluteness and seeks to identify something that is immune to skepticism. Naturalism is irrelevant (the purview of the dilemma is well beyond any such pragmatically oriented limitation).
Okay. On some level we are just talking about different things then. By cosmological argument I am talking about the argument referred to in this article which, as far as I can tell, has little to do with absolute philosophical certainty. Can you sketch out what you mean by the cosmological argument?

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Again, this is not exactly on point, but I'll address it: considering the close relation between the ex nihilo contention and the PSR, I would argue the exact opposite (at least on your first point of the PSR having "little to do inherently with logic"). As the OP has pointed out, employing logic to provide a cure for skepticism, whether relative to the cosmological argument or anything else, leads to infinite regression. For this reason, the stopping point for logical discovery is seated in axioms and postulates: self-evident and/or unquestionably assumed propositions that are intrinsically necessary in the absence of an absolute point, i.e., they are automatically and inherently appointed as de facto absolutes so that reason can function. It is the realization of this unbroken logical chain (from axiom/postulate onward) that gives rise to the PSR, and also what gives rise to the first principle dilemma (on account of questioning the very axioms/postulates upon which logic rests).
There is no cure for absolute skepticism; this is as well known as anything in philosophy. Another way of putting this is that some basic rules or inputs are necessary for knowledge. There is no way to completely evaluate these rules without either using them to do so and being circular or having some outside set of rules, which has the same problem and so on. Thus, Descartes's project of absolute doubt will lead to doubting everything as it is possible to doubt even the laws of logic (I find it not too difficult for instance to doubt that I am doubting right now).

The cosmological argument posits a first cause to solve a problem that is created by accepting the PSR: what explains the existence of the system as a whole? You are applying the PSR to logic/knowledge to derive the same solution and question: what explains the existence of the rules of logic as a whole?

My solution to your question is the same as my solution to the more typical cosmological argument: reject the PSR. I'm not convinced there is a reason/explanation for logic or the physical universe beyond their bruteness. Maybe. It seems like a useful rule of thumb for scientists to assume the PSR topically. But I don't see a good justification for assuming it is a deep principle of the universe.

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As far as your second point ("[logic] is not enough on its own to derive the cosmological argument"), the statement is rather muddled due to the various senses that the term "logic" can embody. If we're still speaking of formal logic, then yes, the cosmological argument is not derived directly from logical axioms or postulates (or their derivatives). Rather, it arises through the application of skeptical theory to the logical axioms/postulates: because logic provides no satisfying answer to the first principles dilemma, it leads to the presupposition of the unmoved mover (which is "logical" in a more colloquial sense, though can also be argued to be logical in a formal sense if the discussion is expanded beyond basic propositional logic).
I mean the formal logic sense.

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What a puzzling declaration- I fail to find what is "odd" about the structure of the argument in question. Logic fails to provide an answer to the question of absolute philosophical certainty, therefore it leads to the concept of the "unmoved mover" (i.e., the cosmological argument) who is beyond logic. Where is the oddness? (Unless, by "odd", you mean contrary to standard experience and thought, which is really not at all "odd", given that we are discussing first principles in the face of infinite logical regression).

Also, I don't see where I stated that this first cause is "known". The only real contention here is that the first cause is beyond logic, which would actually point to the opposite, i.e., that it is unknown, given that the human mind cannot readily, if at all, comprehend the possibility of such a notion (which, of course, does not defeat the idea because the mind simultaneously realizes the lack of any absolute point in logic, hence the dilemma!). The cosmological argument provides a conceptual framework for answering the first principles dilemma: there was an unmoved mover who gave rise to logic (and everything else). Nothing about this mover is "known", and nowhere have I argued for any degree of certainty, much less absolute, that such a mover really exists. If had made such contentions, than perhaps your counter here would make more sense. As it is, it does not.
Philosophical skepticism of the sort practiced by Descartes doesn't challenge the possibility of answers to questions. Rather, it challenges whether these answers can be known to be true. Here you provide a possible answer to the problem of the foundation of logic (a being outside of logic which sets its axioms). But you acknowledge that we don't know that this answer is true. Thus, the unmoved mover as you discuss it here provides no solution to the problem of philosophical skepticism. Thus, it seemed odd to me to claim that the unmoved mover is a move in response to uncertainty. Fundamentally, the cosmological argument seems to me about explanation, not epistemology.

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No, it is not a self-defeating interpretation in the slightest. This counter is, in essence, a straw man argument that actually strengthens my conclusion by demonstrating the failure of the speaker to appreciate the question at hand, i.e., the first principles dilemma, which specifically contends with the failure of the logical axioms/postulates to provide an absolute cure to skepticism. Positing a force/entity as beyond logic does not undermine the integrity of logic because such a force/entity ("unmoved mover") is conceptually valid in only one area of thought: first principles beyond logic. They are not "contradicted" by logic in any traditional sense because they exist, if at all, without logic (or "beyond"). That is the cosmological argument, and it does not have specific application beyond the logical axioms/postulates that serve as the basis for reason to function (the "principle of explosion" counter is a fairly boilerplate response to the CA that has been lampooned innumerable times for missing the point being discussed).
Can you cite one of these innumerable times my view has been lampooned so I can know the mistake I'm making?

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It's not too surprising that you would reference philosophical giants after failing to provide a substantively valid retort against my position on your own (no doubt to endow your refuted position with a veneer of legitimacy), but it's a rather malapropos and distasteful argumentative strategy to pursue, especially given that your characterization of how bygone thinkers would have interpreted this polemic is questionable (though still not substantively relevant).
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Aquinas (Summa Theologica Book 1, Question 25 article 3):
All confess that God is omnipotent; but it seems difficult to explain in what His omnipotence precisely consists: for there may be doubt as to the precise meaning of the word 'all' when we say that God can do all things. If, however, we consider the matter aright, since power is said in reference to possible things, this phrase, "God can do all things," is rightly understood to mean that God can do all things that are possible; and for this reason He is said to be omnipotent.
(my emphasis)

Can you show me the prominent interpretations of Aquinas that make my characterization of his view that God is bound by logic (as explicitly stated in the passage above) questionable?


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Again, because of the differentiation between absolute and maximal certainty (reread my previous posts carefully for more details on this distinction), and because maximal certainty (i.e., grounded in the logical axioms) is inherent and automatic to reason, there is noting nothing self-defeating about the idea that God (or whatever you wish to call the "first cause") is beyond logic whatsoever. Indeed, the idea is necessary for the cosmological argument to have any kind of value as an answer to the first principles dilemma (otherwise, it provides not much more than what the Big Bang already does).
I agree that you can posit a being or grounding that is outside the boundaries of any logic we've created so far. What I'm denying is that you can then use that being in an argument that presupposes that logic.

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Now, I understand that you may have interpreted this argument as a direct threat to your worldview (and it very much is), but I would hope that going forward you can argue and defend your position on the merits instead of quarantining your responses to the very same assumed presuppositions that your interlocutor is questioning .
Okay.

Last edited by Original Position; 12-18-2016 at 01:15 AM. Reason: clarity
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Old 12-18-2016, 02:24 AM   #112
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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Okay. On some level we are just talking about different things then. By cosmological argument I am talking about the argument referred to in this article which, as far as I can tell, has little to do with absolute philosophical certainty. Can you sketch out what you mean by the cosmological argument?
No, not really- we are talking about two separate concepts (the first principles dilemma and the Principle of Sufficient Reason) that arise from the same circumstance (namely, propositional logic's regression to philosophically uncertain tenets). The cosmological argument is distinct from both of these concepts, and it has plenty to do with absolute philosophical certainty: it arises precisely because of the lack of such certainty (if logic or something else provided an answer to the first principles dilemma, the cosmological argument would not be necessary as an explanation for the origin of existence, or it would take on a different meaning altogether).

I think my case here for the cosmological argument has already been cogently and clearly presented- we're debating it at the moment- so asking me to "sketch" it out for you is rather odd. If you have a specific objection to my statements, or if you can provide substantive support for your own asides from name-dropping and providing conclusory quotations (more on that below), the conversation will likely be much more productive.

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There is no cure for absolute skepticism; this is as well known as anything in philosophy.
No, it is not well known as anything in philosophy- what is well known is that no cure has been presented as of yet, not that there is no cure at all. In the alternative, if I stipulate on this point, it actually bolsters my position: it is precisely because of a lack of cure for absolute skepticism that the cosmological argument exists, and also why it is derivative of such an argument that the "unmoved mover" must be beyond logic (otherwise, as has already been stated, the cosmological argument does not provide any more value for the first principles dilemma than does the Big Bang).

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Another way of putting this is that some basic rules or inputs are necessary for knowledge. There is no way to completely evaluate these rules without either using them to do so and being circular or having some outside set of rules, which has the same problem and so on.
Yes, and this is a necessary postulate for the acquisition of maximal (as opposed to absolute) certainty, but it is largely inert in providing any kind of answer to resolving the dilemma at hand: in essence, you're using the circularity/regression that gives rise to the first principles dilemma to shut down discussion about primal causation that postulates metalogic, which is where the crux of the question at hand lies.

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Originally Posted by Original Position View Post
Thus, Descartes's project of absolute doubt will lead to doubting everything as it is possible to doubt even the laws of logic (I find it not too difficult for instance to doubt that I am doubting right now).
Again, yes- you're stating something that is part and parcel of my argument, so I'm not sure how you mean to resurrect your original position. I've already explained the differentiation between absolute and maximal certainty, therefore it is irrelevant, for practical matters, that everything can be doubted- it doesn't change the fact that reason takes certain axioms and postulates as inherent and automatic to its functioning, axioms and postulates that continue to operate despite applying an absolute doubt upon them. This allows the discussion of absolute philosophical certainty to have meaning without bringing about a sort of nihilistic explosion.


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The cosmological argument posits a first cause to solve a problem that is created by accepting the PSR: what explains the existence of the system as a whole? You are applying the PSR to logic/knowledge to derive the same solution and question: what explains the existence of the rules of logic as a whole?
False- the PSR is one path that can lead to the cosmological argument (or a form thereof); another is what I am arguing here: the lack of absolute philosophical certainty. This requires no assumption of causality or sufficiency of reason. It simply questions the axioms and postulates upon which maximal certainty (reason) is based; finding that, at best, they regress into circularity, this leads to the positing of the unmoved mover that is beyond such regression, and thus beyond the strictures of logic. Again, what part of this are you having difficulty with?

It is false to equate my position with an application of the PSR- I am not applying the PSR to anything: I am applying skeptical theory to logic's axioms. Moving on.

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My solution to your question is the same as my solution to the more typical cosmological argument: reject the PSR. I'm not convinced there is a reason/explanation for logic or the physical universe beyond their bruteness. Maybe. It seems like a useful rule of thumb for scientists to assume the PSR topically. But I don't see a good justification for assuming it is a deep principle of the universe.
This is largely irrelevant to my position. I never mentioned the PSR until you brought it up, after which point I did you the courtesy of commenting on it. I'm not sure if you're purposefully avoiding confronting my polemic by conflating it with the PSR (or by digressing into the pragmatic/naturalistic applications of the PSR, which are entirely separate discussions to the topic at hand), so I'll repeat here that my derivation of "God beyond logic" (to put it plainly) is from the application of skeptical theory to logic's axioms. I don't know how to make this any clearer.

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I mean the formal logic sense.
Excellent; then I'll repeat my thoughts on this issue: the cosmological argument does not appear to be a direct derivation of logical postulates or axioms. But again, this does not bear out your original position. I don't recall ever stating that the CA did appear to be a direct derivation of formal logic.

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Philosophical skepticism of the sort practiced by Descartes doesn't challenge the possibility of answers to questions.
Of course it does- if there is no absolute certainty, then that includes any kind of certainty about the set of answers to any given question (in this area of philosophy, not knowing the answer to something includes not knowing if it possesses answers a distinct set of possible answers: remember, if we're speaking about existential phenomena beyond the purview of logic, as we are here, it does not make sense to apply logic to evaluate it, yes?).

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Rather, it challenges whether these answers can be known to be true.
No- this is simple skepticism that assumes an existing set or an existing possibility. No such assumption is valid when questioning the fundamental points of reason, which is what I am doing here. See above for greater detail.

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Here you provide a possible answer to the problem of the foundation of logic (a being outside of logic which sets its axioms). But you acknowledge that we don't know that this answer is true. Thus, the unmoved mover as you discuss it here provides no solution to the problem of philosophical skepticism.
Of course it does: it answers the first principles dilemma by stating that a being beyond logic gave rise to logic and existence as we know it, therefore the regressive nature of logic, which gives rise to the first principles dilemma in the first place, is answered conceptually through this interpretation of the cosmological argument. Whether or not we know this to be true is irrelevant: my argument is that this is one hypothesized and complete (though unsatisfying) answer to the dilemma- nowhere have I argued that it is true (another straw man). To prove or argue that this is true or even possible has never been my intent.

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Thus, it seemed odd to me to claim that the unmoved mover is a move in response to uncertainty. Fundamentally, the cosmological argument seems to me about explanation, not epistemology.
Again, see above for why this explanation is not odd in the slightest: logic regresses to circularity and self-evidence, and positing an unmoved mover beyond logic answers the first principles dilemma regarding a lack of absolute certainty (i.e., logic does not provide such an answer, but a hypothesized being/force beyond logic, and from which logic springs, does because it creates an absolute point that is not subject to the regressiveness of logic, and also is not precluded by anything- what about this is "odd"?).

Additionally, I agree that the CA is about explanation- where have I argued anything to the contrary? Where do you get epistemology from? Are you reading my responses?

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Can you cite one of these innumerable times my view has been lampooned so I can know the mistake I'm making?
Yes, I can, but it would involve digging through my collection of journals, articles, and books on the subject at hand or drudging through Google Scholar. Fortunately, this is not necessary: why should I cite something when I've explained the mistake to you quite clearly, offering you the chance of addressing it? The cosmological argument would be a nullity if logic provided a cure for absolute skepticism; because it does not, the hypothesis that a being beyond logic has given rise to it (i.e., given rise to logic) is presented as a basic solution to the first principles dilemma. The principle of explosion has no bearing here because we are specifically discussing existential phenomena beyond the purview of logic (and thus, the human mind), therefore it is a fairly inapposite point to bring up (I noticed how you quietly did not mention that again in your follow up).

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Can you show me the prominent interpretations of Aquinas that make my characterization of his view that God is bound by logic (as explicitly stated in the passage above) questionable?
This is not a substantive response- you've provided a quote from a pivotal thinker to support your conclusion without offering one iota of support for that conclusion. In essence, you're stating "Aquinas wrote this, therefore I must be right." What makes this even more laughable, if you'll excuse the term, is that the quote from Aquinas itself offers no actual reasoning for this conclusion. Perhaps if you had actually provided such reasoning, your interlocutor could come to understand what you are basing your own argument upon.

You also seem to be operating under the delusion that I've stated that the characterization of the thinkers you mentioned, regarding the "God is beyond logic" issue, is necessarily wrong, when I actually stated that it is questionable. Why are you trying to devolve this contest into a battle of quotes instead of arguing the substantive point?

Again, to repeat: you have no reasonable basis for assailing my position, which is most likely why you continue to name-drop great bygone thinkers to shore up your lack of substance. Whenever you wish to provide such substance, it will be most welcome.

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I agree that you can posit a being or grounding that is outside the boundaries of any logic we've created so far. What I'm denying is that you can then use that being in an argument that presupposes that logic.
This is a somewhat contradictory closing statement (I won't even get into your implication that logic is "created"- that might be accurate for specific logical parameters or various paralogics, but the fundamental tenets of logic are better described as being "discovered"). Your first statement implies at least some degree of validity to the positing of such a being (otherwise, that statement is empty of value and equivalent to, e.g., "you can posit pink elephants as existing"), but then you claim that it cannot be employed. Why? It is not being applied within a system where logical axioms have been established as being of absolute philosophical certainty, and it is not being interjected within any system itself as some kind of magic bullet: it is purely a hypothetical that is posited 1) generally on the basis of the mind's recognition of absolute skepticism and 2) only in an external context, i.e., the cosmological argument, where it provides an answer to the first principles dilemma. Again, the lack of absolute certainty means that we have nothing to preclude the possibility of existential phenomena beyond our comprehension (and beyond logic), so your retort here is simply nonsensical to me, meaning that my original hypothesis continues to hold validity, i.e., an unmoved mover beyond the strictures of logic has given rise to existence.

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Old 12-18-2016, 04:04 AM   #113
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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I think my case here for the cosmological argument has already been cogently and clearly presented- we're debating it at the moment- so asking me to "sketch" it out for you is rather odd. If you have a specific objection to my statements, or if you can provide substantive support for your own asides from name-dropping and providing conclusory quotations (more on that below), the conversation will likely be much more productive.
Meh, you've backed off your claims of scholarly support and I don't enjoy your hostility. Never mind.
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Old 12-18-2016, 07:13 PM   #114
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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Meh, you've backed off your claims of scholarly support and I don't enjoy your hostility. Never mind.
No, I did no such thing. Rather, I pointed out the fact that you were substituting conclusory quotes for substantive argumentation. You don't get to say "this guy said X, therefore I am right." That is point of this debate, i.e., to evaluate the soundness of the conclusions in question. There exists plenty of scholarly alignment with my polemic here, but I'd rather this not devolve into a battle of quotations, especially given the fact that we are discussing philosophy, not science. The tenets at work here do not require submission or reference to meticulous studies for their application; they only require sentient thought, which you appear to possess.

Secondly, try not to confuse assertive defense with "hostility". You replied to me with mostly bare assertions and assumptions (the very same my position challenged) in a matter-of-fact, passive aggressive manner, and after I dissected your rebuttal, you degraded to a reliance on a battle of quotes, and finally, to cloaked ad hominem. Given this, I echo your sentiment regarding the displeasure experienced in this particular branch of the conversation and consider it closed.

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Old 12-19-2016, 12:24 PM   #115
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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Enter the cosmological argument: it posits the unmoved mover, a force/entity that is beyond the axioms and postulates of logic as the fundamental origin of everything (including logic!). If God is bound by logic, then God is no true answer to the first principle dilemma because then God would be subject to the same logical strictures of circularity and infinite regression (and those are precisely the reasons why the cosmological argument was conjured up in the first place).
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2) The classical and medieval philosophers most associated with this argument (Plato, Aquinas, Aristotle) would all have rejected your characterization of the First Cause as being outside or unbounded by logic.
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It's not too surprising that you would reference philosophical giants after failing to provide a substantively valid retort against my position on your own (no doubt to endow your refuted position with a veneer of legitimacy), but it's a rather malapropos and distasteful argumentative strategy to pursue, especially given that your characterization of how bygone thinkers would have interpreted this polemic is questionable (though still not substantively relevant).
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Aquinas (Summa Theologica Book 1, Question 25 article 3):
All confess that God is omnipotent; but it seems difficult to explain in what His omnipotence precisely consists: for there may be doubt as to the precise meaning of the word 'all' when we say that God can do all things. If, however, we consider the matter aright, since power is said in reference to possible things, this phrase, "God can do all things," is rightly understood to mean that God can do all things that are possible; and for this reason He is said to be omnipotent.
Can you show me the prominent interpretations of Aquinas that make my characterization of his view that God is bound by logic (as explicitly stated in the passage above) questionable?
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This is not a substantive response- you've provided a quote from a pivotal thinker to support your conclusion without offering one iota of support for that conclusion. In essence, you're stating "Aquinas wrote this, therefore I must be right." What makes this even more laughable, if you'll excuse the term, is that the quote from Aquinas itself offers no actual reasoning for this conclusion. Perhaps if you had actually provided such reasoning, your interlocutor could come to understand what you are basing your own argument upon.

You also seem to be operating under the delusion that I've stated that the characterization of the thinkers you mentioned, regarding the "God is beyond logic" issue, is necessarily wrong, when I actually stated that it is questionable. Why are you trying to devolve this contest into a battle of quotes instead of arguing the substantive point?

Again, to repeat: you have no reasonable basis for assailing my position, which is most likely why you continue to name-drop great bygone thinkers to shore up your lack of substance. Whenever you wish to provide such substance, it will be most welcome.
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Meh, you've backed off your claims of scholarly support and I don't enjoy your hostility. Never mind.
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No, I did no such thing. Rather, I pointed out the fact that you were substituting conclusory quotes for substantive argumentation. You don't get to say "this guy said X, therefore I am right." That is point of this debate, i.e., to evaluate the soundness of the conclusions in question. There exists plenty of scholarly alignment with my polemic here, but I'd rather this not devolve into a battle of quotations, especially given the fact that we are discussing philosophy, not science. The tenets at work here do not require submission or reference to meticulous studies for their application; they only require sentient thought, which you appear to possess.

Secondly, try not to confuse assertive defense with "hostility". You replied to me with mostly bare assertions and assumptions (the very same my position challenged) in a matter-of-fact, passive aggressive manner, and after I dissected your rebuttal, you degraded to a reliance on a battle of quotes, and finally, to cloaked ad hominem. Given this, I echo your sentiment regarding the displeasure experienced in this particular branch of the conversation and consider it closed.
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Anyways, I hope that clarified the ideas I brought up in my first post a bit more. Ontology (and philosophy in general) is a field where reasonable minds can easily disagree, so I welcome any feedback you have on this (including continued disagreement). I'm not saying that this is the "right" interpretation of the cosmological argument, only that it makes sense to me (and hopefully others as well). There are other independently valid positions on the subject that can be attained through different lines of reasoning.

Hmmm....oh well.

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Old 12-19-2016, 03:41 PM   #116
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

The five stages of internet debate. Curiosity, eagerness, anger, insults and hindsight.

On a more serious note, can a formal logic system be used to prove that something is beyond its capability? I mean, I would presume you wouldn't know if you found a limitation in the system or an wrongful application of the system.

For example, you can't use maths to crush rocks (directly), but you can't use merely maths to prove that, that conclusion has to come from a knowledge of the rules of the formal system and the traits of rocks.
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Old 12-19-2016, 03:58 PM   #117
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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On a more serious note, can a formal logic system be used to prove that something is beyond its capability? I mean, I would presume you wouldn't know if you found a limitation in the system or an wrongful application of the system.
I'm not really qualified to assert this, but isn't that what Gödel's famous Incompleteness Theorems do?
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Old 12-20-2016, 09:55 AM   #118
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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I'm not really qualified to assert this, but isn't that what Gödel's famous Incompleteness Theorems do?
I had to study these for a while, so excuse the late reply. As I understand it, they are theorems that state that certain formal logic systems (specifically ones of a certain mathematical type) are not complete and can not confirm their own consistency. Iow there are (validly written) statements they can't disprove or prove, nor can the systems themselves show they contain no contradictions.

Experts will have to excuse my dabbler interpretations and any errors therein.

For me the problem is rather more trivial. I don't see how how any system of formal logic could be used to know "with absolute certainty" if an error was due to its own limitations or wrongful use of the system, it would seem to me that would be analogous to a camera exclaiming "I can see perfectly!"

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Old 12-20-2016, 12:18 PM   #119
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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On a more serious note, can a formal logic system be used to prove that something is beyond its capability? I mean, I would presume you wouldn't know if you found a limitation in the system or an wrongful application of the system.
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I'm not really qualified to assert this, but isn't that what Gödel's famous Incompleteness Theorems do?
Certain logical systems (from Godel) cannot prove their own consistency, provided they are consistent in the first place. But Godel isn't saying that its a theorem of Peno Arithmetic that Peno Arithmetic cannot prove its own consistency, which seems to be what tame was asking.
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Old 12-20-2016, 12:28 PM   #120
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

Thanks to you both. I think I understand.
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Old 12-20-2016, 12:32 PM   #121
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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For me the problem is rather more trivial. I don't see how how any system of formal logic could be used to know "with absolute certainty" if an error was due to its own limitations
Logical systems can prove their own inconsistency, certain forms of naive set theory being an important historical example. But I agree with you that things are more trivial from a philosophical point of view than non mathematicians typically understand. Even if Peano Arithmetic proved its own consistency, you could simply believe that it only proves that because its inconsistent and there is also some unknown proof of its inconsistency hiding somewhere. It shouldn't give you much more metaphysical certainty than before.

Its like asking somebody if he is lying about something. If you had serious doubts before they aren't just gonna be wiped away because he tells you he isn't lying for the obvious reason that he could be lying about that also

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Old 12-20-2016, 05:17 PM   #122
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

Thanks for the replies dessin, very good stuff.
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Old 02-24-2017, 07:16 PM   #123
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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Hmmm....oh well.
Hey, darling- apologies for the delay in responding (work and such got in the way, not to mention your express intent not to continue the substantive debate gave me the impression that the conversation between us had terminated).

It never ceases to amuse me the lengths that megalomaniacs like yourself will traverse to avoid admitting error. After I dissected your first few rebuttals, you disengaged from the contest, attempting to save face by spewing forth fallacious accusations of how I "backed off from claims of scholarly support" (no, I did no such thing) and playing the victim by citing my "hostility". In my previous post, I explained to you 1) that I never backed off from any claims of scholarly support; 2) that in the context of philosophical dialectics, it is somewhat of an absurdity to condition continued argumentation on the presentation of scholarly support (especially when such did not have much to do with the original debate)- this is because logic, unlike the sciences, does not require third-party studies or proclamations to be correctly and coherently assessed and accessed, therefore your reference to "scholarly support", asides from being fallacious in its claim that I have "backed off" from such, is nothing more than a smoke screen to save face for losing the debate; 3) that attempting to bolster your attempt at saving face by accusing your interlocutor of "hostility", after you responded in an extremely uncharitable tone, and with, at best, ineffective and tangential points, is not only a fool's errand but a rather disgusting argumentative tactic (a form of projection, really); and 4) that your feedback and rebuttals were off-point.

Then you follow-up by block quoting me, bolding various sentences and words, and finishing up with a snarky "Hmm, oh well." Nice. This is how you respond when your polemic is shredded to pieces, with passive aggressiveness and trifling, cliched attempts at saving face and projection? Ok then.

Allow me to address the part of my statements you bolded in your most recent direct response to me: "so I welcome any feedback you have on this (including continued disagreement). I'm not saying that this is the "right" interpretation of the cosmological argument, only that it makes sense to me (and hopefully others as well). There are other independently valid positions on the subject that can be attained through different lines of reasoning."

This is absolutely correct: I very much welcome any feedback, including continued disagreement, that anyone can have on this topic, whether it is you or anyone else, and I do not make claims that my position is necessarily the "right" interpretation. That, however, does not mean that I am going to let slip by the wayside statements that I find to be off-point, illogical, or otherwise present objections to my position that I find utterly unpersuasive, and it certainly does not mean that I am going to play the role of your mother and tell you that you are right when it is plain as day to me that you're speaking nonsense. That has nothing to do with me "welcoming feedback" or acknowledging that my position is not necessarily the "right" one, and the fact that you're now using this statement of mine against me as a last ditch effort to save face over your refusal to continue the substantive portion of the conversation simply adds to the growing level of disgust that I have for your tactics. It should be fairly obvious to the reasonably prudent person that the "welcoming of feedback" does not mean that there will not be a robust response to that feedback. I do hope you understand this.

Oh well, indeed. Please make an effort to keep your megalomania under control. Again, I am not your mommy- I'm not going to comfort you and tell you that you're making sense and succeeding when your response to me was an off-base, specious, and tangential hodgepodge of generality that made it clear you not only did not understand the argument I was making, but you were extremely offended that I continued to oppose you. And then you have the gall to accuse me of hostility and to engage in this passive-aggressive cat and mouse game? Excellent approach.

I wholeheartedly invite you to continue the actual discussion we were having, but if you still refuse to do so, I would suggest you refrain from engaging in acts of juvenile spite by posting snarky messages, capeesh?

Ok then. Glad we understand each other.

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Old 02-24-2017, 07:36 PM   #124
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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Originally Posted by dessin d'enfant View Post
Logical systems can prove their own inconsistency, certain forms of naive set theory being an important historical example. But I agree with you that things are more trivial from a philosophical point of view than non mathematicians typically understand. Even if Peano Arithmetic proved its own consistency, you could simply believe that it only proves that because its inconsistent and there is also some unknown proof of its inconsistency hiding somewhere. It shouldn't give you much more metaphysical certainty than before.

Its like asking somebody if he is lying about something. If you had serious doubts before they aren't just gonna be wiped away because he tells you he isn't lying for the obvious reason that he could be lying about that also
Excellent summary and analogy- this is partly what I was getting at in my previous posts on this thread, i.e., that metaphysical skepticism does not countenance self-validating (axiomatic) logical systems (thus, a reference to the principle of explosion is an utterly off-base and irrelevant retort).

This is not a problem when it comes to reliance on our reason because we are forced to accept our reason as axiomatic, and we do not require it to be philosophically certain (this is the distinction between philosophical certainty and maximal certainty, the latter being all that we need to approximate so as to hold knowledge in high confidence).

The upshot as far as the cosmological argument is concerned is that it, i.e., the cosmological argument, is the only answer as to first principles that provides even a remotely satisfying explanation to ontological origins. And why is it not a problem that such an explanation potentially rests beyond or in contradiction to logic? Again, because logic is not philosophically absolute, so no absolute contradiction takes place in positing that something may exist beyond, or in direct contradiction with, its parameters!

=D
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Old 02-24-2017, 08:42 PM   #125
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Re: An alternate cosmological argument

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<snip>
It never ceases to amuse me the lengths that megalomaniacs like yourself will traverse to avoid admitting error.
<snip>
Thanks.
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In my previous post, I explained to you 1) that I never backed off from any claims of scholarly support;
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Aquinas (Summa Theologica Book 1, Question 25 article 3):
All confess that God is omnipotent; but it seems difficult to explain in what His omnipotence precisely consists: for there may be doubt as to the precise meaning of the word 'all' when we say that God can do all things. If, however, we consider the matter aright, since power is said in reference to possible things, this phrase, "God can do all things," is rightly understood to mean that God can do all things that are possible; and for this reason He is said to be omnipotent.
(my emphasis)

Can you show me the prominent interpretations of Aquinas that make my characterization of his view that God is bound by logic (as stated in the passage above) questionable?

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<snip>
Ok then. Glad we understand each other.
Good.

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