The Ontological Argument

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The Ontological Argument

Of all the God arguments being put forth by theistic philosophers, the ontological argument stands out to me as being the most fascinating. The argument is unique and salient among its class insofar that its existential conclusion, i.e., God has real existence, is inferred without recourse to empirical observation. For many, such an a priori argument is a paradigm example of sophistry and chicanery. After all, how can we acquire new knowledge about the cosmos without first examining its state of affairs? This basic conviction has led many people to not take the argument seriously. At the same time, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where the argument goes wrong, since, without further justification, the proposition that knowledge can only come from experience seems to be a case of simple prejudice, or more specifically, an exemplary case of question begging. Evidently, refuting the argument requires more than just a mere hand wave; it requires the practice of some good philosophy.

My principal goal in writing this essay will consist in providing a greater understanding of the argument’s place in the discourse of metaphysics. First, I shall discuss an early formulation of the argument along with the various critiques that it would eventually become subject to. Secondly, I will attempt to do the same with the more contemporary formulations of the argument. Finally, I shall attempt to argue that, in spite of the dialectical stalemate that is inevitably encountered with regard to the argument’s soundness, the argument can still be perceived as valuable when considered in light of the very reason for which it was originally put forth in the eleventh century; for the believer to better understand his or her own religious convictions.

One of the earliest known versions of the argument can be traced back to St. Anselm of Canterbury. Anselm does not present the argument in any formalized way, but instead lays it out in an interpersonal dialogue with God. The dialogue occurs in Chapter 2 of Proslogion, where Anselm states that he understands God to be that than which nothing greater can be conceived. In other words, Anselm, following St. Augustine, understands God to be the exemplar of the fullness of being, the concept of which applies analogously to all that is but which can only apply to God infinitely. Thus, while worldly entities such as people enjoy the greatness of being in limited instances, such as in the instances of possessing limited knowledge or having a limited presence on some region of this planet, it is only God who enjoys being in its plenitude, i.e., possessing unlimited knowledge, unlimited power, omnipresence, etc. As such, it is not metaphysically possible for one to even conceive of a being greater than God.

Continuing the dialogue, Anselm makes the following argument: If the atheist (or "Fool," as it states in the Psalms) accepts that the utterance, “that than which nothing greater can be conceived,” constitutes a rightful description of God, then s/he inexorably adheres to a worldview based upon a contradictory postulate. For in granting the consistency of the description, the atheist has accepted that God exists as an abstract object in his or her mind. Furthermore, the atheist must, in order to successfully maintain his or her position, believe that God exists solely in his or her mind. But clearly, the premise that God is not anything more than a thought object is inconsistent with the aforementioned Augustinian conception of God, which, presumably, the atheist has just accepted. For it is, according to Anselm‘s representation of Augustine, greater to exist in reality than it is to exist solely in the mind. Moreover, even as the atheist steadfastly denies that God exists in reality in addition to the mind, s/he will not be hard pressed to acknowledge that God could be thought to exist in reality in addition to the mind. Thus, it becomes clear that the atheist is unable to deny the real existence of God without self-contradiction. In this case, a denial of God's real existence would amount to an affirmation that the being than which nothing greater can be conceived is such that it could be conceived to be greater.

 

I myself would agree that the efficacy of the argument depends strongly upon one’s set of presuppositions. Yet, is it possible to adopt, with no prima facie contradictions, any other worldview where one’s set of presuppositions allows s/he to infer the real existence of an object a priori? I do not believe that there is. This alone makes the argument unique and can help us understand that God, if conceivable at all, would be like nothing else that we can conceive. In essence, I find worth in the argument, not as a dialectical device but as a means of personal reflection. First, as I have just demonstrated, it sheds greater light on the nature of unbelief, showing that the epistemic chasm that exists between unbelievers and God is, indeed, an overall issue of one‘s own universe of discourse, itself not established within the parameters of Humean empiricism. Secondly, despite what Oppy says, it does help us gain a greater understanding of God’s nature, so long as we treat it as I’ve just specified. Then we are not simply proceeding from the premise that God is possible but also from the conclusion that God has real existence, which, in conjunction with the premises and the encompassing worldview, would somewhat elucidate to us just how excellent God really is. Thus, while the argument does not prove anything to anybody, I can still find worth in it.

Personal reflections aside, it is equally important to consider that St. Anselm, widely considered to be the pioneer of the argument, did not posit the argument for the purposes of apologetics. Indeed, Anselm does not pretend to operate from a position of neutrality; he makes it very clear from the outset that Christianity is his worldview. This is evident from the very first chapter of Proslogion, where Anselm pleads with God for His self-revelation. As Anselm states:

“When will you look upon us, and hear us? When will you enlighten our eyes, and show us your face? When will you restore yourself to us? Look upon us, Lord; hear us, enlighten us, reveal yourself to us (Proslogion, Chapter 1).”

As can be seen, it is not Anselm’s thesis that God’s existence can be proven, at least in such a way that an unbeliever may be persuaded. Though Anselm felt obliged to defend his position publicly (as seen in his discussions with Gaunilo), the chief reason for which Anselm wrote Proslogion was to continue seeking the goal which he sought out initially in Monologion; to honor God faithfully with the application of reason, which Anselm believes to be a reflection of God and therefore the basis on which God must be understood by his disciples. Anselm goes on to state:

“The believer does not seek to understand, that he may believe, but he believes that he may understand: for unless he believed he would not understand (Proslogion, Chapter 1).”

In other words, Anselm submitted to the fundamental Christian tenet that belief in God is only achieved through God’s divine grace. Thus, he did not adhere to a quasi-rationalist viewpoint according to which human beings, when left to their own devices, can come to know God from a blank slate (tabula rasa). However, Anselm does not strictly view the belief in God to be a matter of faith alone, but also as something which can be justified intellectually. And this can be regarded as equally, if not more, important for the believer as it is for the atheist.

REFERENCES

“The Analytic Theist: An Alvin Plantinga Reader”, edited by James Sennett

“Ontological Arguments and Belief in God” by Graham Oppy

“Charles Hartshorne and Ontological Arguments” by Eugene Peters

“Anselm’s Discovery” by Charles Hartshorne

“Saint Anselm’s Proof: A Problem of Reference, Intentional Identity, and Mutual Understanding” by Gyula Klima

“Logic and Theism” by Jordan Howard Sobel

“The One and the Many” by W. Norris Clarke

“The Christian Theology Reader” by Alister McGrath

“Reading Anselm’s Proslogion” by Ian Logan

“Anselm Revisited” by Robert Shorner

“Anselm and the ontological argument” by Brian Davies

However, philosopher Graham Oppy believes that while the argument may be of historical interest, it is completely worthless as a dialectical tool. According to Oppy, aside from the argument’s lack of persuasiveness, it neither serves as an expository tool for the theistic position nor does it demonstrate that theism is rationally acceptable. It is inadequate in explaining the theistic position because it only begins with the assumption that God is possible or logically conceived and not with the assumption that God exists. And it is inadequate in demonstrating the rational acceptability of theism because it only goes so far as to show that the argument is sound only if one adopts a particular set of presuppositions, which themselves may or may not be justified.

 

The argument is a reductio ad absurdum argument, which is an argument that proves its conclusion by demonstrating that the contrary postulate leads to a logical contradiction. As it appears in Chapter 2 of Proslogion, Anselm's argument, albeit not formalized by Anselm himself, may be formalized here in the following way:

(1) God is the greatest conceivable being [definition of “God“].

(2) Either the greatest conceivable being is only a thought object or it exists in reality [premise].

(3) Anything which is only a thought object is less great than it would be if it existed in reality [premise].

(4) The greatest conceivable being is only a thought object [assumed premise].

(5) The greatest conceivable being is less great than it would be if it existed in reality [from 3 and 4].

(6) It is not the case that the greatest conceivable being is only a thought object [indirect proof from 4 and 5] .

 

Ironically, one of the first critics of Anselm's argument was not an atheist, but a Christian monk by the name of Gaunilo. In his letter On Behalf of the Fool, Gaunilo argues that simply because we can conceive of something does not mean that we can infer that it exists in reality, no matter how great we conceive it to be. As an example, Gaunilo conceives of an island which can be described as that island than which no greater island can be conceived. By Anselm's logic, this island must exist in reality because any island which exists solely in the mind is less great than it would be if it existed in reality. However, given that this is clearly absurd, Anselm's argument must be absurd as well.

At first glance, it appears to be a thoughtful argument on the part of Gaunilo. However, Anselm is alacritous to retort that Gaunilo’s analogical comparison between God and an island is unwarrantable because, while it may be conceivable that there be an island which happens to be greater than all other existing islands, it is utterly inconceivable that there be an island which is such that no greater island can be conceived. For no matter how great one conceives an island to be, s/he can always conceive of one that is greater, simply because the greatness of an island is based upon things which have no intrinsic maximum, e.g., trees, weather, riches, size, and the like. In essence, Gaunilo's rebuttal lacks any cogency because a greatest conceivable island is logically impossible; islands are imperfect by their very nature, from which it follows that to conceive of an island than which no greater island can be conceived would be to contradictorily conceive of something that is both perfect and imperfect. By contrast, God has a degree of greatness which is based upon the category of being, which itself does have an intrinsic maximum. As such, God is not merely the greatest being, but He is the greatest conceivable being.

From all of this, it is clear that Gaunilo's objection fails. But this does not mean that Anselm's argument is sound. For it was Immanuel Kant who delivered what many take to be the staunchest objection to the argument. As an interesting footnote, Kant was actually the first person (as far as we know) to refer to the argument as the "ontological argument." Moreover, even though many philosophers consistently invoke Kant as being one of Anselm‘s chief detractors, it is questionable as to whether or not Kant himself was directing this rebuttal towards Anselm specifically. Nevertheless, according to Kant, the central flaw in the inference to God’s real existence from the contents of the idea is the treatment of existence as being something which a subject possesses, i.e., a predicate. To Kant, existence itself is not anything which is added to a concept; it is merely the is of a judgment, which serves to connect a subject to its predicate. As such, the statement "God is" is hardly a statement at all. Instead, it's an incomplete sentence, which, from the perspective of the opposing interlocutor, says nothing meaningful about the idea which it attempts to put forth. For it simply posits the object in relation to whoever is conceiving it, which may be demonstrative of the possibility of the object, but not of its actuality. For Kant, we can never infer the actual from the possible. Otherwise, the currency of a hundred possible dollars would be equal to that of a hundred actual dollars, which is clearly absurd. Therefore, according to Kantians, Anselm's argument may support the possibility of God, but not His actuality.

For many, it is taken for granted that Kant soundly defeated Anselm. But is it true? In order for Kant's objection to work against Anselm, it must be established that Anselm somehow had a misconception about the idea of existence. The problem, however, is that it is not so clear that this actually applies to Anselm's argument. Kantians would probably point specifically to the third premise, which states that something existing solely in the mind is less great than it would be if it existed in reality. But it can be argued that what Anselm treats as a predicate here is not existence, but concreteness and/or abstractness. As such, it does not appear that Anselm has any difficulty operating in accordance with Kant’s semantic guideposts; given the set of all that is contained in the concept, concreteness or abstractness would contribute to the cardinality. Thus, once the atheist grants that God is the greatest conceivable being, s/he becomes caught in a self-contradiction; inevitably adhering to the idea that the greatest conceivable being can be, insofar that it is greater to be concrete than it is to be abstract, conceived to be greater than He is. This is true, even if existence is not a predicate. Therefore, Kant's objection fails against Anselm.

The failure of Kant's objection notwithstanding, there still remains something unsatisfactory about this formulation of the argument. For it inevitably raises the question: In what sense can we say that a real being is greater than an abstract entity? Thus far, we've only been appealing to intuition, where it seems obvious, for instance, that a hundred dollars in reality is greater than an imaginary hundred dollars. However, there are other scenarios in which this idea becomes counterintuitive. For example, are we equally justified in arguing that the Pythagorean Theorem is qualitatively less great than an amoeba simply on the grounds that the amoeba exists in reality as opposed to the Pythagorean Theorem which is only in the mind? If so, what heuristic not trading upon personal whim could we possibly have implemented in order to arrive at such a conclusion? Even if one argues that the aforementioned measurement of greatness applies only to situations where the greatness of a concrete entity is measured against that of its own concept (for example, if one says that while it is not necessarily true that the Pythagorean Theorem is less great than an amoeba, the real issue is whether or not an abstract Pythagorean Theorem would be less great than a concrete Pythagorean Theorem), the general problem still remains.

But in the view of some philosophers, Anselm avoids this problem insofar that in contextualizing his argument with other chapters of Proslogion, the proposition that concrete existence provides additional greatness does not seem to be what Anselm was attempting to defend in the first place. For such an endorsement would admittedly make the argument far less tractable than it ought to be. For some, Anselm’s metric of greatness seems to be more pertinent to the distinction between contingent beings and necessary beings.

In essence, the argument itself becomes a practice in what is known as "modal logic." Modal logic is a formal system of logic which provides a convenient way for logicians to make arguments using modal terms such as possibly, contingently, and necessarily. More specifically, modal logic provides a body of axioms and theorems which direct our usage of such terms, allowing us to formulate arguments, such as Anselm's ontological argument, more rigorously. Applying modal logic, it could be stated that something x is possible if and only if there is a possible world where x is instantiated. Likewise, something x is necessary if and only if x is instantiated in every possible world. Finally, something x is contingent if and only if x is instantiated in one or more possible worlds but not every possible world.

Applying the aforementioned principles, Anselm’s argument has been subject to revision by contemporary philosophers. This revision has come to be known as the “modal ontological argument.” There are two main versions of this argument whose relative ubiquity shall render them the primary focus of the ensuing discussion. The first version was formalized by Charles Hartshorne and Norman Malcolm. Although Hartshorne and Malcolm did not work together, I shall, for the sake of brevity, discuss both of their arguments in the context of one formulation, given that their respective versions are quite similar to one another. The second version, formalized by Alvin Plantinga, seems to be unique in its own right.

The argument formalized by Charles Hartshorne and Norman Malcolm largely reflects what Anselm wrote in Chapter 3 of Proslogion. In it, Anselm puts forward a premise, which, for Hartshorne and Malcolm, constitutes the foundation for the contemporary metaphysical understanding of “necessary” and “contingent”; an individual whose nonexistence is logically impossible is qualitatively greater than one whose nonexistence is logically possible. Thus, in the May 1944 issue of The Philosophical Review, Hartshorne interprets Anselm to be arguing that God, the greatest conceivable being, must be a necessary being because it is greater to be necessary than it is to be contingent. Norman Malcolm, in the January 1960 issue of the very same journal, echoes Hartshorne’s sentiments by positing that if God is understood properly as the greatest conceivable being, then He cannot be understood as having begun to exist nor can He be understood as existing whilst having the potential to not exist because anything which begins to exist or stops existing must be an effect of some cause to which it cannot comparatively be greater. Hence, according to the analyses of both Hartshorne and Malcolm, positing that God is not instantiated in the actual world is tantamount to arguing that, in the worlds where God does exist, there is some being that is qualitatively greater than the greatest conceivable being, which, of course, is a metaphysical impossibility. As such, the structure of the argument gives way to the following exclusive disjunction: Either the existential proposition of God is analytically true or it is logically contradictory. And, according to the argument, since the proposition is not contradictory, it must be analytically true. Hartshorne and Malcolm’s argument can be formalized in the following way:

(1) God is the greatest conceivable being [definition of “God”].

(2) The greatest conceivable being is either necessary or impossible or contingent [premise].

(3) The greatest conceivable being is neither impossible nor contingent [premise].

(4) The greatest conceivable being is necessary [from 2 and 3].

(5) The greatest conceivable being exists in all possible worlds [from 4].

::. God exists in the actual world [from 1 and 5].

Alvin Plantinga formalized what many take to be the most famous modal version of the argument. The principal weakness that Plantinga found in Hartshorne and Malcolm's formalization of the argument was that it was not made clear in any of their premises that God's existence in the actual world included all of His great-making properties, which is to say, perhaps God's properties in possible world W are greater than His properties in actual world W'. As Plantinga states:

"It doesn't follow that the being in question has the degree of greatness in question in Kronos, the actual world. For all the argument shows, this being might exist in the actual world but be pretty insignificant here. In some world or other it has maximal greatness; how does this show that it has such greatness in Kronos (The Analytic Theist, Alvin Plantinga, edited by James Sennett, 1998, p. 66)."

Plantinga thus revised the argument to say that God, as understood by Anselm, possesses His great-making properties in every possible world. Plantinga refers to the instantiation of God's great-making properties (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, moral perfection, etc.) in every possible world as "maximal greatness," whereas the instantiation of such properties in one world is called "maximal excellence." Plantinga reformulates the argument as follows:

(1) There is a possible world in which maximal greatness is instantiated [premise].

(2) Necessarily, a being is maximally great if and only if it has maximal excellence in every possible world [definition of "maximal greatness"].

(3) Necessarily, a being has maximal excellence in every possible world if and only if it is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, wholly good, and eternal in every possible world [definition of "maximal excellence"].

::. A being instantiates omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, moral perfection, and eternality in the actual world [from 1 to 3].

How do atheists respond to the newly formed modal versions of the argument? One objection is that granting the possibility of God in these instances is strictly epistemic, which is to say that as far as we know, God is possible. Along similar lines, we can argue that it is possible that the one billionth digit of Pi is 8, simply on the grounds that we have no knowledge whatsoever of the one billionth digit of Pi. And for the atheist, this is the only sense in which we can say that God is possible; we have no knowledge whatsoever of God, therefore we can say that God is possible, if “possible“ is understood in a trivial epistemic sense. Thus, we cannot accept the logic of the modal ontological argument because in doing so we would have to conclude that since the one billionth digit of Pi is 8 in some possible world, it therefore must be 8 in every possible world since all mathematical truths are logically necessary. But clearly, there is something wrong with this conclusion because we‘ve already conceded that we do not know if the one billionth digit of Pi is 8. In the same way, we cannot conclude from God’s epistemic possibility that He actually exists.

In response, the theist can argue that it should be made clear that, in the context of the argument, "possibility" strictly refers to modal possibility, i.e., occupying some possible world. In this case, the term "God" has a clearly defined meaning, allowing us, by way of its logical consistency, to posit with certainty that such a being is modally possible. In terms of the one billionth digit of Pi, we cannot apply this same metric simply because the assessment of its logical consistency is coupled with the application of counting, which creates an epistemological gap between ourselves and the value of the mathematical constant equal to the one billionth digit of Pi. As a result, we can only know that necessarily there is a one billionth digit of Pi and that, letting 0 < x < 9, if the one billionth digit of Pi is x in possible world W, then it is x in every possible world. However, our metric for determining what x can possibly be equal to is much less manageable and therefore, we cannot say one way or the other if the one billionth digit of Pi is possibly 8. Rather, we just simply do not know. Thus, the epistemological gap does not apply in both cases.

But then the atheist may ask the following question: How can we know for sure that "God" is a logically consistent idea? For the concept itself may contain a hidden contradiction which we are unaware of. Thus, it may in fact be the nonexistence of God which is logically necessary. In fact, one can point out that it is possible for us to affirm the real existence of contradictory ideas if we fail to realize that such things are contradictory. The contention that “God” is a contradictory idea is referred to by Hartshorne as “positivism.”

Understandably, theists may ask the following question in response: What exactly does this position do for the atheist? Does the alleged possibility of "God" being a contradictory term vindicate his or her position? If anything, it would place the burden of proof on his or her shoulders. Moreover, the tactic itself seems to be an ad hoc maneuver on the part of the atheist if s/he normally argues against God from the standpoint that a world where God exists would be entirely different from the one that we happen to occupy (for example, the problem of evil argues that the existence of evil is inconsistent with the existence of God, which would show that the atheist grants the coherency of the idea of God insofar that s/he is speaking of worlds where God exists). Thus, it would appear that, at least to the theist, positivism is an untenable position.

But though it may be clear that atheists will have their own burden of proof with respect to the positivist position, isn't it just as well that God's conceivability requires further justification on the part of the theist? In fairness, the lack of prima facie contradictions in the proposition “God exists in reality” seems to apply equally to the proposition “God does not exist in reality.” At this stage, then, it seems to be the case that the tenability of the ontological argument is, in any one of its formalizations, contingent upon one's worldview. Hence, while the argument itself will work for those whose set of presuppositions allows that there be something than which nothing can conceivably be greater, it will have not even a modicum of currency for the atheist interlocutors who deny that “God“ is even meaningful. Thus, the ontological argument does not appear to stand on its own two feet, as it requires us to make additional arguments in support of the set of presuppositions under which it is sound. Given these facts, the atheist does not seem to be fully blameworthy for his or her skepticism. For it holds true that if an entire worldview is not justified, then arguments which are defended only under its auspices cannot be justifiably accepted.

St. Thomas Aquinas had argued along similar lines, claiming that the existence of God, while self-evident, is not necessarily self-evident to us. God is self-evident in Himself, as it is clear to Him, in His omniscience, that nonexistence is not an option for Him. But, as Aquinas would probably have argued, in order for the truth of this existential proposition to be clear to us, we will need intellectual assent provided from beyond the mere utterance of the word "God." Thus, according to Aquinas’ reasoning, it seems that the ontological argument, even if we grant its validity, cannot provide us with grounds for saying that the atheist’s tendency toward doubt is without excuse.

It appears, then, that the greatest charge someone can make against the ontological argument is that it's superfluous. For it seems that it only works once the truth of the proposition "God has real existence" is established a posteriori, at which point God's real existence is already proven.

One possible counterargument is as follows: If we follow Charles Hartshorne‘s understanding of God‘s nature, then it is inconceivable that positivism be true. Hartshorne states that unlike regular abstractions such as "human" or "cat," the abstraction "perfect" cannot be shared by many beings. As such, God's existence does not occur in place of other things which could have shared in His divine category. The essence of God is, in fact, noncompetitive. This means that there is no moment at which God's existence competes with His nonexistence or with the existence of others because such dichotomous relationships are predicated only of contingent things. Taking this one step further, we can argue (as philosopher Eugene Peters does) that God, in His divine essence, constitutes the ground for possibility itself, since the ultimate source of any contingent thing would consist in something that's necessary. Hence, one may argue that God cannot be modally impossible because the very notion of possibility presupposes God. Therefore, so the argument goes, the ontological argument can work without recourse to a posteriori arguments.

The problem with this proposed solution is that if the positivist is right and "God" is not meaningful, then the term, regardless of what the theist intends for it to signify, does not actually signify anything, anymore than does “squared circle” actually signify a four sided figure that contains only closed curves. What follows is that in putting forth this objection against the atheist, the theist is making an accusation of self-contradiction whilst unwittingly presupposing that the atheist grants the coherency of the term, which cannot be the case in positivism. The only recourse for the theist, then, would be to put forth another argument justifying the coherency of "God," which, as previously mentioned, would make the ontological argument superfluous.

So, the question remains, what place does the ontological argument have in the ongoing dialectic between theists and atheists? One could argue that it could be useful in explicating the theistic position, given that the argumentative modus operandi of the atheist may be based on a misunderstanding of what “God” means. Furthermore, as Alvin Plantinga notes, even if the argument does not establish its conclusion incontrovertibly, it may still lend credence to the rational acceptability of theism, given its deductive validity and the fact that its central premise, i.e., God is possible, contains no prima facie contradiction. One could also argue that the argument is a useful tool for engaging philosophy novices (especially those who are atheists, given their antipathy towards the argument’s conclusion) in the contemplation of metaphysical issues, since, as Plantinga mentions, many of the central issues in metaphysics meet in this argument, such as the nature of existence, the possibility of knowledge without experience, the relationship between concepts and objects, and so on.

::. The greatest conceivable being exists in reality [from 2 and 6].

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/anselm-proslogium.html

 

 

 

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm

 

 


BobSpence
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The ontological argument is

The ontological argument is a non sequitur. Modal logic is a tortured version of logic devised to give respectability to this contorted style of argument.

God has to be first established to be plausible. But it proposes an entity with attributes vastly beyond anything even suggested by actual verified knowledge, so this is a pretty big hurdle.

God is not necessary to explain our Universe, and it cannot serve as an ultimate explanation for reality, since it cannot explain itself, despite the naked assertions of the ontological argument.

If such a being did exist, we would have no way to know anything of its attributes with any certainty, since we could NOT exclude the option that it was actively deceiving us. It is deeply dishonest and fallacious to assume or define what God's attributes are as part of an argument, or attempt to argue that anything was not "in his nature".

So while we can't strictly 'prove' that nothing matching such a description exists, there are an infinite number of bizarre possibilities one would be required to give credence to, if one were to be logically consistent and honest.

It neither an adequate nor plausible 'explanation' for Life, the Universe, on Everything.

Naturally you have to buy into in the first place to find it acceptable, that simply reinforces my point it that has no logical justification - like religious faith and revelation, it is pure self-deception.

There may indeed have been a 'first cause' in some form, but no basis for arguing that it had any of the attributes that would make such a thing a 'God'.

That people can the ontological argument seriously does indeed tell us something about the propensity of people to believe what they want to believe, and for clever people to apply their talents to devise sufficiently convoluted arguments to justify to themselves their emotional commitment to utterly fallacious beliefs.

It is sad and pathetic to see so much verbiage wasted on such logical bone-headedness.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Atheistextremist
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I guess if you're going to unload

 

ontology onto us it might as well be nicely written and referenced. Bloody, are you suggesting that mental conception of a deity somehow confers logical actuality onto that deity - that the fools create the god in their minds by rejecting him? Do the attributes of this god vary depending on who is doing the rejecting? As for 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived' could you please describe this creature for us? What are its definable qualities that are not just these words? Could you humour us with your definition of this god, given he is a being you say can be known? I reject your conceptual label as representing nothing at all.

And I wonder if you apply this philosophical logic to other elements of your existence, or whether scientific explanation applies within the constraints of the only universe we can actually know; say, in the function of your car and computer; while your ontology applies only to the conceptual processes undertaken by your brain while formulating and writing this epistle? 

It's tough to swallow your conclusion that the argument 'god is possible' carries any real weight on this earth given the only way we could possibly know this in our reality is by falsifiable experiment undertaken using the means at our disposal. All sorts of things are possible using your logic but they are not provable, while scientific thought, which you insist on repeatedly describing as 'atheism' endeavours to explain why, what and how things actually are.

I can't help feeling this represents is a sort of reductio ad absurdum case where god is broadly proven by contradiction - where the non existence of god is made impossible, making god possible. Trouble is, the existence of god is a false dichotomy. The alternative to the physicalism we observe around us is not, by default, an anthropomorphic creator god. And we know reductio ad absurdum and false dichotomy make uncomfortable bedfellows. Furthermore, falsifiable physicalism underscores a powerful inverse probability suggesting that, given his complete absence from this universe, there is far more likely to be no god anywhere else at all.

 

P.S. BTW, Bloody, if you don't want to be abused, please avoid deploying adhom in the form of biblical quotes aligning atheists/fools. It's not appreciated even when launched into the discussion in your scholarly tone.  

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


ubuntuAnyone
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I think the ontological

I think the ontological argument in any form attempts to suppose that is purely epistemic about something that is ontological: that is one supposes a definition a priori without an actual ontological referent for that definition.  This creates a problem. If one presses for some sort of ontological referent for the definition, then the one holding the definition will be forced to beg the question.  But at the same time, if the one holding the definition does not have an ontological referent for the definition, then the definition is meaningless. Either way, the ontological argument is doomed.

But I think you recognize this and offer a mitigated form of the argument in a modal form, and your citation of Peters suggests that the possibility of a god more or less makes god necessarily true because definitionally god is not a contingent being. But this suffers from the same problem mentioned before even in its modal form. If one does suppose a possible worlds scenario, nothing about those possible words suggests that any one of them are actual worlds. Fore this reason, this amounts to nothing more than a nice thought experiment.

If one wants to use this as justification for belief in a god, then it is at best a weak Pascalian argument. It's arguable that Pascalian thought satisfies the Principle of Sufficient Reason, but this fails to produce what it intended to, which was a proof for the actual existence of a god. Rather, it becomes more or less a probabilistic assertion with no way of discerning the actual probabilities for any of the possible worlds it supposes. Until at least one possible world scenario can be shown to necessarily exists and for that world to be shown to be the actualized world, I think the the atheist is justified in withholding belief.

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The wall of text is not

The wall of text is not helpful - who has time for all that?

 

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Continuing the dialogue, Anselm makes the following argument: If the atheist (or "Fool," as it states in the Psalms) accepts that the utterance, “that than which nothing greater can be conceived,” constitutes a rightful description of God, then s/he inexorably adheres to a worldview based upon a contradictory postulate.

 

My description of god/s/dess is the imaginary friend delusional fools have to carry around in their own minds in order to make it though a normal day.  Does this fit you?

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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There is just so much wrong

There is just so much wrong with the phrase "God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived".

If you use "can be conceived" in the ordinary sense, it merely explicitly expresses a limitation of the human mind, which cannot plausibly be used to establish the ontological status of anything other than aspects of the human mind itself.

If you mean "can be conceived" in the old philosophical/metaphysical sense of something like "is not inherently contradictory or impossible", it still confers no actual existential status on the entity, or implies anything about its attributes or nature whatever. It does not logically preclude there being many, even an infinite number, of possible entities, all with an identical "greatness".

It also begs the question of what  sense "greatest' is meant, by what criteria is "greatness" calculated, which makes it an extremely ill-defined statement, not appropriate to be used in a serious logical argument.

The "principle of Sufficient Reason" is also an empty statement, since there is a unjustified assumption in the term "sufficient" - ie, that the cause or reason must have some minimal value, which we know, from Quantum Mechanics in Physics, or even just Chaos Theory without quantum effects, that the magnitude, however one expresses it, of the proximate cause of some event may be indefinitely small. Many events in reality occur as the result of some net change in an indefinitely large number of possibly independent states of those things in their environment which can affect them in some way. That principle assumes a far more simplistic world that what exists, which also makes it void of useful application.

Arguments couched in these terms are void of meaning or import, for these and other reasons.

If they cannot be re-phrased in terms of classical logic, using modern terminology, their validity is questionable.

Modal logic is problematic, since it use of the word "necessary" in a non-conventional way so as to exclude the simultaneous application of the term "possible", makes it difficult to relate to reality, allowing in propositions that severely beg the question, especially when they assume some entity may be necessary. That a particular entity could not possibly not exist is would be required to be demonstrable by ordinary logic for any modal argument about it to able to demonstrate anything other than a form of "if ... then". In fact, any modal argument should certainly be expressible in non-modal terms, where we replace the qualification "necessary" of any entity in an input proposition with the logic which determines that it is indeed "necessary", ie, will be "true" under all possible states of the input elements.

This would prevent modal arguments being used to conceal the fact that they may be used to slide over a giant naked assertion about the status of an entity that is being discussed.

 

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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BobSpence1 wrote:The

BobSpence1 wrote:

The ontological argument is a non sequitur. Modal logic is a tortured version of logic devised to give respectability to this contorted style of argument.

Have you studied logic?  If so, was it at the graduate level or just as an undergrad?

Quote:
God has to be first established to be plausible. But it proposes an entity with attributes vastly beyond anything even suggested by actual verified knowledge, so this is a pretty big hurdle.

I'm not sure how to interpret the sentence "God has to be be first established as plausible."  Do you mean that theists have to establish that the idea of God is not logically contradictory?  If so, I do not think that the burden is necessarily on the theist to do that.  In this case, the idea of God, in the very least, contains no prima facie contradictions.  If your best argument against Anselm is that the concept of God may be contradictory, then you really have nothing going for you.

Quote:
If such a being did exist, we would have no way to know anything of its attributes with any certainty, since we could NOT exclude the option that it was actively deceiving us. It is deeply dishonest and fallacious to assume or define what God's attributes are as part of an argument, or attempt to argue that anything was not "in his nature".

I already know His attributes because I already know what I mean when I say "God."  Do you mean to argue that God could be some regular human being walking the Earth deceiving us into thinking that He is some regular human (for example, you could be God trying to deceive me into thinking that you are some guy with long hair and a beard acting like an atheist)?  If that's the case, it still does nothing to refute the ontological argument.  The argument would still be internally consistent.

Quote:
Naturally you have to buy into in the first place to find it acceptable, that simply reinforces my point it that has no logical justification - like religious faith and revelation, it is pure self-deception.

The argument requires someone to accept that the idea of God is meaningful.  At best, you could say the argument is superfluous because it would require additional arguments to support the consistency of the idea, at which point the existence of God would be proven by those arguments alone.  But the ontological argument is deductively valid, whether atheists like it or not. 


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Do outline these attributes, do.

 

Bloody_Cross wrote:

I already know His attributes because I already know what I mean when I say "God."  Do you mean to argue that God could be some regular human being walking the Earth deceiving us into thinking that He is some regular human (for example, you could be God trying to deceive me into thinking that you are some guy with long hair and a beard acting like an atheist)?  If that's the case, it still does nothing to refute the ontological argument.

 

And give us scales of measurement that are not subjective so we can understand them, too.

 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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ubuntuAnyone wrote:I think

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

I think the ontological argument in any form attempts to suppose that is purely epistemic about something that is ontological: that is one supposes a definition a priori without an actual ontological referent for that definition.  This creates a problem. If one presses for some sort of ontological referent for the definition, then the one holding the definition will be forced to beg the question.  But at the same time, if the one holding the definition does not have an ontological referent for the definition, then the definition is meaningless. Either way, the ontological argument is doomed.

I think the primary reason that many people reject the argument is that if the argument is sound, then we are able to acquire new knowledge about some concrete entity without actually observing the external cosmos.  This is obviously counterintuitive.  We automatically presume that this sort of knowledge can only come from sensation.  But this breaks down as soon as we give it metaphysical scrutiny because we really have no reason to believe that this is true.  It's just question begging and that will not defeat the argument.

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If one does suppose a possible worlds scenario, nothing about those possible words suggests that any one of them are actual worlds.

A necessary being, by definition, exists in all worlds, which would include the actual world. 


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Atheistextremist wrote:And

Atheistextremist wrote:

And give us scales of measurement that are not subjective so we can understand them, too.

Eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, wholly good, omniscient, immaterial, self-existent, sentient, emotional, creative.


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Ok

Bloody_Cross wrote:

Atheistextremist wrote:

And give us scales of measurement that are not subjective so we can understand them, too.

Eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, wholly good, omniscient, immaterial, self-existent, sentient, emotional, creative.

 

But what do these words actually mean in a measurable sense, Bloody?.

Eternal? What is that? I can't imagine. Nor can I imagine clear definitions for omniscient, omnipotent or omnipresent that are logically consistent. Sentient, emotional and creative I can manage at my human level but surely god is sentient across all senses, all inputs, all stimuli, known and unknown. How can we imagine that? It's outside our capability to comprehend it and the confusion we feel when we reach our point of cognitive failure is not a value or a quality. To conceive god you would have to be god.

I can't help feeling that at the heart of the theist v atheist ontological debate is a question over separability of substance. Does a quality have an actual substance? In us, let alone in an idea of god? Atheists/separatists are always going to struggle with epistemological realism. Can we see an idea - an idea than is not real? Can an idea be proven to be an actual thing?

Wholly good? What does that actually mean? Is it that god constantly exceeds the pinnacle of humanity's concept of universal altruism? Or is he good with kids? 

 

P.S. Sorry for all the tweaks, Bloody, but immaterial? This goes back to separation of substance. Can an immaterial thing exist in a material universe? Or does god dwell in a conceptual plane?

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

Bloody_Cross wrote:

Atheistextremist wrote:

And give us scales of measurement that are not subjective so we can understand them, too.

Eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, wholly good, omniscient, immaterial, self-existent, sentient, emotional, creative.

 

But what do these words actually mean in a measurable sense, Bloody?.

Eternal? What is that? I can't imagine. Nor can I imagine clear definitions for omniscient, omnipotent or omnipresent that are logically consistent. Sentient, emotional and creative I can manage but surely god is sentient across all senses, all inputs, all stimuli, known and unknown. How can we imagine that? It's outside our capability to comprehend it and the confusion we feel when we reach our point of cognitive failure is not a value or a quality. To conceive god you would have to be god.

I can't help feeling that at the heart of the theist v atheist ontological debate is a question over separability of substance. Does a quality have an actual substance? In us, let alone in an idea of god? Atheists/separatists are always going to struggle with epistemological realism. Can we see an idea - an idea than is not real? Can an idea be proven to be an actual thing?

Eternal means that something has no beginning or end.  In a measurable sense, it would mean that no matter how far you went back in time, this eternal thing would still be around.  Likewise, no matter how far you go forward in time, this eternal thing will still be there. 

Omniscient means that God knows everything there is to know, which is to say that there is nothing new you can teach God.  On a deeper level, it is to say that God's created order exists by virtue of his knowledge, rather than God knowing the world because it is there for him to know.

Omnipotent means that God is the ultimate source of all power and creates beings with a specific potency which accords to the kinds of things that they are. 

Omnipresent means that God's knowledge and influence permeates every possible location.  In other words, you can fly to the farthest planet, but you cannot hide from God.

Where are the contradictions exactly? 


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Bloody_Cross wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

The ontological argument is a non sequitur. Modal logic is a tortured version of logic devised to give respectability to this contorted style of argument.

Have you studied logic?  If so, was it at the graduate level or just as an undergrad?

Quote:
God has to be first established to be plausible. But it proposes an entity with attributes vastly beyond anything even suggested by actual verified knowledge, so this is a pretty big hurdle.

I'm not sure how to interpret the sentence "God has to be be first established as plausible."  Do you mean that theists have to establish that the idea of God is not logically contradictory?  If so, I do not think that the burden is necessarily on the theist to do that.  In this case, the idea of God, in the very least, contains no prima facie contradictions.  If your best argument against Anselm is that the concept of God may be contradictory, then you really have nothing going for you.

 

The burden is absolutely on the Theist who proposes the existence of something that is assumed to have attributes totally beyond anything we can even indirectly apprehend, that is not necessary to explain existence, so has no demonstrable explanatory power.

It is not a matter of whether it is self-contradictory or not - there are an infinite number of non-self contradictory scenarios, beings, collections of beings, etc, that could be proposed. It is the Theist's obligation to demonstrate that his assumed being can be justified as clearly the best explanation for some otherwise unresolvable mystery. Unless you can do that you are the one who has nothing going for you.

Stephen Hawking has come out and pronounced from a position of significant knowledge and study of the ultimate nature of reality that God is at the very least not necessary.

Quote:

Quote:
If such a being did exist, we would have no way to know anything of its attributes with any certainty, since we could NOT exclude the option that it was actively deceiving us. It is deeply dishonest and fallacious to assume or define what God's attributes are as part of an argument, or attempt to argue that anything was not "in his nature".

I already know His attributes because I already know what I mean when I say "God."  Do you mean to argue that God could be some regular human being walking the Earth deceiving us into thinking that He is some regular human (for example, you could be God trying to deceive me into thinking that you are some guy with long hair and a beard acting like an atheist)?  If that's the case, it still does nothing to refute the ontological argument.  The argument would still be internally consistent.

You DO NOT KNOW anything of the actual attributes of a God being if he actually does exist. Knowing what YOU mean when you say "God" is irrelevant to the actual attributes of any super creator being that could conceivably exist. God could be playing games with us, making you believe whatever he wants to achieve some end of his own that has no intention of telling you. You have NO WAY to know either way.

The ontological argument does not establish anything about the nature of a 'necessary greatest possible being' - it does not specify what "greatest" refers to, it does not logically preclude an infinite number of beings meeting such a criteria, and does not prove that such a being actually must exist.

Quote:

Quote:
Naturally you have to buy into in the first place to find it acceptable, that simply reinforces my point it that has no logical justification - like religious faith and revelation, it is pure self-deception.

The argument requires someone to accept that the idea of God is meaningful.  At best, you could say the argument is superfluous because it would require additional arguments to support the consistency of the idea, at which point the existence of God would be proven by those arguments alone.  But the ontological argument is deductively valid, whether atheists like it or not. 

Even if someone does accept that the idea of God is "meaningful", and I am not necessarily saying it isn't, that in no way whatever proves that such a being actually does exist. That is totally bone-headed.

There is absolutely nothing inconsistent or contradictory with the notion that a person could conceive of a 'perfect', or an infinitely great one, or whatever, and that being not actually existing.

Our minds and the brains which they inhabit are very definitely finite and limited, so it is in fact impossible that they could really conceive of any non-finite being in any actual sense, rather than just by the label 'infinite'. Infinity as a direct perception is totally beyond us.

You cannot 'define' an entity into existence - that would be a contradiction, giving us finite beings the power to reify an infinite being who we envisage as our creator. This is insane.

Your argument, the ontological argument, is utterly without merit.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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Contradictions

Bloody_Cross wrote:

Atheistextremist wrote:

Bloody_Cross wrote:

Atheistextremist wrote:

And give us scales of measurement that are not subjective so we can understand them, too.

Eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, wholly good, omniscient, immaterial, self-existent, sentient, emotional, creative.

 

But what do these words actually mean in a measurable sense, Bloody?.

Eternal? What is that? I can't imagine. Nor can I imagine clear definitions for omniscient, omnipotent or omnipresent that are logically consistent. Sentient, emotional and creative I can manage but surely god is sentient across all senses, all inputs, all stimuli, known and unknown. How can we imagine that? It's outside our capability to comprehend it and the confusion we feel when we reach our point of cognitive failure is not a value or a quality. To conceive god you would have to be god.

I can't help feeling that at the heart of the theist v atheist ontological debate is a question over separability of substance. Does a quality have an actual substance? In us, let alone in an idea of god? Atheists/separatists are always going to struggle with epistemological realism. Can we see an idea - an idea than is not real? Can an idea be proven to be an actual thing?

Eternal means that something has no beginning or end.  In a measurable sense, it would mean that no matter how far you went back in time, this eternal thing would still be around.  Likewise, no matter how far you go forward in time, this eternal thing will still be there. 

Omniscient means that God knows everything there is to know, which is to say that there is nothing new you can teach God.  On a deeper level, it is to say that God's created order exists by virtue of his knowledge, rather than God knowing the world because it is there for him to know.

Omnipotent means that God is the ultimate source of all power and creates beings with a specific potency which accords to the kinds of things that they are. 

Omnipresent means that God's knowledge and influence permeates every possible location.  In other words, you can fly to the farthest planet, but you cannot hide from God.

Where are the contradictions exactly? 

 

Can god be everywhere but not in my heart, not in hell; can god be anything and not be capable of evil, be satan, be non-existent? Can god know everything and not know how good it feels to immorally fuck, to murder in anger? To be high? Can god know these pleasures and be wholly good? If god is omnipresent, where is he in this universe? He is everywhere in every plane but my eyes cannot see him, I cannot hear him, the colliders have not detected him. Why does he not impact on the operations of what we know about the universe? Where is he hiding?

I still think your definitions are nebulous. If the ontological argument depends on my subjective conceptions for its power I am severely limiting god to the extent of my imagination. I can't imagine very far back or forward. I can say the words but I cannot truly conceive them. God as the 'ultimate source of all power' is not a definable property either. I can't image the milky way, let alone a universe comprising billions of galaxies each comprising billions of stars and having no known limits. Humans don't understand the magnetic core of Uranus, let alone what's going on in Andromeda.

Rather than god, gravity seems the ultimate force in the universe. Or is it electromagnetism, or is it weak or strong nuclear forces? Where is the god force? If intrinsic, how does god power these forces without being discernible to scientific measurement? A measurement that has extended our view so much further than the feeble views proposed by prophets and mystics based on the frail dimensions of the human imagination? How is that scientific inquiry can be so much greater and so much lessor than human reason?

It seems to me that for all our conceptual star jumps, knowable reality is out there, Bloody, waiting for us to see it.

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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BobSpence1

BobSpence1 wrote:

The ontological argument is a non sequitur. Modal logic is a tortured version of logic devised to give respectability to this contorted style of argument.

Have you studied logic?  If so, was it at the graduate level or just as an undergrad?

You didn't answer the above question.  Please address this.  You are making a variety of claims about Modal Logic, classical logic, logicians, and so on.  I just want to know what your credentials are with regard to this topic.

Quote:
The burden is absolutely on the Theist who proposes the existence of something that is assumed to have attributes totally beyond anything we can even indirectly apprehend, that is not necessary to explain existence, so has no demonstrable explanatory power.

What burden is on the Theist?  To prove that the idea of God is not logically contradictory?  What exactly are you getting at here?

Proving that God is necessary to account for existence is the cosmological argument.  This is not the cosmological argument. 

Again, with respect to the ontological argument, what burden is on the theist? 

Quote:
It is not a matter of whether it is self-contradictory or not

It absolutely is a matter of whether the concept of God is contradictory.  The ontological argument stands or falls upon this pivotal assumption.  It is the only recourse that atheists have, the only thread they hang upon, in allowing that the argument itself be possibly unsound.  If the concept of God is not self-contradictory, and you acknowledge this, then you lose.  Atheism is false.  A greatest conceivable being exists. 

Please address this and stop reverting to the cosmological argument.  This has nothing to do with accounting for existence.  This is all about whether or not the existential proposition of God is analytically true. 

Quote:
there are an infinite number of non-self contradictory scenarios, beings, collections of beings, etc, that could be proposed.

No.  Absolutely not.  There is not another being, not a single one, who is such that the idea, if meaningful, lends itself to the concrete existence of a thing.  The idea of God is the only concept which can be treated in this way, simply because the greatness of God is predicated upon the concept of being, which has a intrinsic maximum.  You will never, not once in your life, be able to make an ontological argument with any being except God, and have that argument withstand critical scrutiny to the point where one can only hang on by a thread of whether or not the idea is contradictory. 

Quote:
It is the Theist's obligation to demonstrate that his assumed being can be justified as clearly the best explanation for some otherwise unresolvable mystery. Unless you can do that you are the one who has nothing going for you.

Once more:  This is not the cosmological argument.  This argument has nothing to do with explaining some mystery.

Quote:
Stephen Hawking has come out and pronounced from a position of significant knowledge and study of the ultimate nature of reality that God is at the very least not necessary.

If you want to appeal to authority, I will point to guys like Hugh Ross, Albert Einstein, and Robert Jastrow-- all theists.  But I'm not going to play this game of my-physicist-can-beat-up-your-physicist.  Physicists are not philosophers.  They do not study the ultimate nature of reality.

Quote:
You DO NOT KNOW anything of the actual attributes of a God being if he actually does exist. Knowing what YOU mean when you say "God" is irrelevant to the actual attributes of any super creator being that could conceivably exist. God could be playing games with us, making you believe whatever he wants to achieve some end of his own that has no intention of telling you. You have NO WAY to know either way.

That's like saying that even though you know what you mean by "one legged zebra," you do not know the actual attributes of any one legged zebra that could possibly exist, including the fact that it's a horse and has one leg.  God is, by definition, a being who is eternal, wholly good, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent being.  That means, that if he exists, then he is eternal, wholly good, omnipresent, omnisecient, and omnipotent. 

God is all-powerful, but he doesn't make squared circles.

Quote:
The ontological argument does not establish anything about the nature of a 'necessary greatest possible being' - it does not specify what "greatest" refers to, it does not logically preclude an infinite number of beings meeting such a criteria, and does not prove that such a being actually must exist.

Naturally you have to buy into in the first place to find it acceptable, that simply reinforces my point it that has no logical justification - like religious faith and revelation, it is pure self-deception.

The argument requires someone to accept that the idea of God is meaningful.  At best, you could say the argument is superfluous because it would require additional arguments to support the consistency of the idea, at which point the existence of God would be proven by those arguments alone.  But the ontological argument is deductively valid, whether atheists like it or not. 

You cannot 'define' an entity into existence - that would be a contradiction, giving us finite beings the power to reify an infinite being who we envisage as our creator. This is insane.

You are just making assertions.  Can you show me how all of these statements are true?

Quote:
Our minds and the brains which they inhabit are very definitely finite and limited, so it is in fact impossible that they could really conceive of any non-finite being in any actual sense, rather than just by the label 'infinite'. Infinity as a direct perception is totally beyond us. 

Humans conceive of lots of things which are unavailable to us as "direct perceptions": perfect shapes, infinite numbers, parallel universes, dark matter, and so on.  Simply because we cannot understand the experience of these things does not mean that we cannot have metaphysical discussions about their natures.

Quote:
Your argument, the ontological argument, is utterly without merit.

As much as I'd like to take credit for it, it's not my argument.


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Bloody_Cross

Bloody_Cross wrote:

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

I think the ontological argument in any form attempts to suppose that is purely epistemic about something that is ontological: that is one supposes a definition a priori without an actual ontological referent for that definition.  This creates a problem. If one presses for some sort of ontological referent for the definition, then the one holding the definition will be forced to beg the question.  But at the same time, if the one holding the definition does not have an ontological referent for the definition, then the definition is meaningless. Either way, the ontological argument is doomed.

I think the primary reason that many people reject the argument is that if the argument is sound, then we are able to acquire new knowledge about some concrete entity without actually observing the external cosmos.  This is obviously counterintuitive.  We automatically presume that this sort of knowledge can only come from sensation.  But this breaks down as soon as we give it metaphysical scrutiny because we really have no reason to believe that this is true.  It's just question begging and that will not defeat the argument.

Quote:
If one does suppose a possible worlds scenario, nothing about those possible words suggests that any one of them are actual worlds.

A necessary being, by definition, exists in all worlds, which would include the actual world. 

We have zero reason to justify the idea that actual knowledge of external reality can be obtained without actually observing the cosmos - any such purely internal, non-empirical reasoning is inherently unverifiable by any means whatever. Even if you come up with an idea that by chance happens to be true, you cannot know that without checking it against that cosmos. Verifiability to any degree would require an independent source of 'knowledge', which is against the basic premise.

It is not a matter of 'sensation' as the only other option - it is some form of observation which has some non-zero correlation with external truth, so does not require perfect senses. If even our senses are not to be trusted in any useful degree, you are forced to be a solipsist...

The more senses we can employ, the more varieties of sensation (especially the more external instruments or aids to our sense we can aim at the object of study), the more observers we can employ, the more we can improve the degree of confidence we can justify having in the likelihood of any particular observation matching reality to a useful degree. It becomes an iterative process where the results of initial tests indicate areas of weakness in a given approach and suggest how we might best refine our methodolgy.

You have to first establish that a given being exists, let alone is necessary. To establish that some conceived being was necessary would require truly complete knowledge of reality, which our finite and fallible minds are never going to have.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Atheistextremist wrote: Can

Atheistextremist wrote:
 

Can god be everywhere but not in my heart, not in hell; can god be anything and not be capable of evil, be satan, be non-existent?



As I've said, omnipresent means that God's knowledge and influence permeates every possible location.  This means that whether you are in Hell, someone's heart, Jupiter, and so on, you cannot hide from God.  God will still know your every move.  Likewise, you can take a tiny pebble, hide it under mountains of sand and God will know everything about the state of that pebble while it remains hidden, including its temperature, force against neighboring sand grains, and the like.  It is in that sense that God is everywhere.  Obviously, we intuitively think of location as strictly referring to spatial location, but the theological meaning of "omnipresence" has a much broader vision with regards to what it means to be here

If you are in Hell, God is going to know full well the pain and suffering that you are going through.  You seem to be under the impression that while you are in Hell, God has no clue what is going on while you are there.

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Can god know everything and not know how good it feels to immorally fuck, to murder in anger? To be high? Can god know these pleasures and be wholly good?

God certainly understands the temporary pleasure you get from doing these things.  Obviously, God can't have sex because having sex would require a body, and that would limit God to being a material being.  But he definitely knows and understands what sex is, the joy one gets from having it, the mutual feelings of love, and so on.

God experiences these feelings as well, but he does not have to be immoral in order to do so (and neither do we, in fact). 

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If god is omnipresent, where is he in this universe? He is everywhere in every plane but my eyes cannot see him, I cannot hear him, the colliders have not detected him.

See above.  Omnipresence has nothing to do with location in space.  God is not spatially extended.  

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Why does he not impact on the operations of what we know about the universe? Where is he hiding?

You know that if I actually answered that, you would just accuse me of begging the question and demand proof.  But I'll answer anyway:  God does impact the universe.  He is causing it as we speak.  Everything that is exists through God as the ultimate source.  The fact that you don't believe this or do not infer it from what you see has no bearing on whether or not it is actually true. 

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I still think your definitions are nebulous. If the ontological argument depends on my subjective conceptions for its power I am severely limiting god to the extent of my imagination. I can't imagine very far back or forward. I can say the words but I cannot truly conceive them. God as the 'ultimate source of all power' is not a definable property either. I can't image the milky way, let alone a universe comprising billions of galaxies each comprising billions of stars and having no known limits. Humans don't understand the magnetic core of Uranus, let alone what's going on in Andromeda.

I'm not talking about coming up with mental pictures or duplicating an experience.  Obviously, you can't do that.  The goal is to formulate a logically consistent metaphysical account of a particular being. 

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Rather than god, gravity seems the ultimate force in the universe. Or is it electromagnetism, or is it weak or strong nuclear forces? Where is the god force? If intrinsic, how does god power these forces without being discernible to scientific measurement? A measurement that has extended our view so much further than the feeble views proposed by prophets and mystics based on the frail dimensions of the human imagination? How is that scientific inquiry can be so much greater and so much lessor than human reason?

It seems to me that for all our conceptual star jumps, knowable reality is out there, Bloody, waiting for us to see it.

Gravity is simply a label that we attached to some mysterious force that pulls us downward.  It does not even begin to provide an explanation for why the universe exists or why we exist in it.  I'm sure a good physicist can imagine a chaotic universe with no gravity.  Likewise with electromagnetism, a universe where atoms do not bond together.  I don't know how God does anything.  My only contention is that a universe of contingent beings is not self-explanatory.  It requires explanation.  If you are a champion of science, then you would have to agree with this.  The very reason we do science is because we believe that things can be explained, which is actually a metaphysical assumption rather than a scientific one.  I am using that same methodology but applying it beyond the scope of the physical universe.  It's simple; there are beings whose nonexistence is logically possible.  These beings are constantly competing with their nonexistence with assistance from other beings, for example, you constantly have to breathe air, eat food, keep warm, etc.  It's this entire chain of dependence.  Clearly, the existence of you and me is not self-explanatory.  In order for the cosmos to be intelligible at all, there needs to be a being whose existence is ultimately self-explanatory. 

Of course, we've digressed to the cosmological argument.  But note that the nature of such a being would have to be such that nonexistence is a logically impossibility.  Otherwise, to what extent could this being account for the existence of the cosmos? 

 

 


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Bloody_Cross

Bloody_Cross wrote:

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

I think the ontological argument in any form attempts to suppose that is purely epistemic about something that is ontological: that is one supposes a definition a priori without an actual ontological referent for that definition.  This creates a problem. If one presses for some sort of ontological referent for the definition, then the one holding the definition will be forced to beg the question.  But at the same time, if the one holding the definition does not have an ontological referent for the definition, then the definition is meaningless. Either way, the ontological argument is doomed.

I think the primary reason that many people reject the argument is that if the argument is sound, then we are able to acquire new knowledge about some concrete entity without actually observing the external cosmos.  This is obviously counterintuitive.  We automatically presume that this sort of knowledge can only come from sensation.  But this breaks down as soon as we give it metaphysical scrutiny because we really have no reason to believe that this is true.  It's just question begging and that will not defeat the argument.

What I was getting at and what you either fail to see or understand is on the virtue that definitions require some sort of ontological (i.e. metaphysical) referent in order to have any meaning, whether it is actual or not. I'm not saying that one cannot have some sort of a priori knowledge about things as that would exclude works of imagination. But with that being said, if one presses that the definition is for something actual, which the argument does, then it results in question begging in the same manner as if one was doing it from his or her imagination. This is not the same as verficationism, as I'm not pressing for such things. Rather I'm pointing out that the definition is both the assumption and the conclusion are the sane thing such that the argument is viciously circular no matter if the entity is actual or not, cosmically observed or otherwise.

It is not obtaining new knowledge about anything other than psuedo-knowledge about the assumptions of the definition, which does not map onto any reality other than the one assumed by the definition, which may or may not be actual. If it is actual, then I think it is dumb luck, not some sort of deductive proof for such things.

Bloody_Cross wrote:

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If one does suppose a possible worlds scenario, nothing about those possible words suggests that any one of them are actual worlds.

A necessary being, by definition, exists in all worlds, which would include the actual world. 

You're right, so long as the actual world is included in your set of possible worlds. The point I was making was that you cannot know this without begging the question.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:What I

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

What I was getting at and what you either fail to see or understand is on the virtue that definitions require some sort of ontological (i.e. metaphysical) referent in order to have any meaning, whether it is actual or not. I'm not saying that one cannot have some sort of a priori knowledge about things as that would exclude works of imagination.

I'm not sure what you mean.  For starters, "ontological" and "metaphysical" do not mean the same thing, so I'm not sure why "(i.e. metaphysical)" is written after "ontological."  Second, are you claiming that a definition is meaningful only if the thing defined actually exists? 

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But with that being said, if one presses that the definition is for something actual, which the argument does, then it results in question begging in the same manner as if one was doing it from his or her imagination.

The argument concludes that God is actual by making the inference from the contents of the idea.  This is the complete opposite of begging the question.  It is including a multitude of premises prior to the conclusion. So, it cannot be the existential proposition of God that begs the question.  It would have to be one of the premises.  As an atheist, the only one you could point to is the premise that God is possible.

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Rather I'm pointing out that the definition is both the assumption and the conclusion are the sane thing such that the argument is viciously circular no matter if the entity is actual or not, cosmically observed or otherwise.

Anselm has a right to posit any definition of "God" that he wants.  You take an utterance and you attach it to a description.  Anselm attached "God" to "the greatest conceivable being."  There is nothing wrong with doing that.

The conclusion of the argument is that God exists in reality.  The assumption is that additional greatness is provided to those beings whose nonexistence is logically impossible, which I have no reason not to believe.

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You're right, so long as the actual world is included in your set of possible worlds. The point I was making was that you cannot know this without begging the question.

The actual world would be included in the set of every possible world.  This isn't begging the question, it is logical requirement of the word "every."


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Bloody_Cross, I wrestle with

Bloody_Cross, I wrestle with real logic everyday, in the form of computers and computer programs, which are pure logic, and are totally intolerant of faulty logic.

You are the one making naked assertions, or just passing on ones made by others.

You aren't going to get anywhere appealing to authority - authority figures, especially in philosophy and metaphysics, are notoriously unreliable. It was famous Greeks who used pure reason to 'know' that flies had four legs and that heavier objects always fell faster than light objects.

I have probably been considering these topics much longer than you have, with a background in an engineering degree, which I achieved with Honours, after having come in the top few percent of my state in high school graduation. I will not pretend this makes me infallible, but I do have some actual basis for my confidence.

You seem to lack comprehension in reading my post, or maybe the ideas are simply so outside your medieval mindset you are incapable of wrapping your mind around them. <sarcastic condescension off>

You keep going back to relying on the 'non-contradictory' nature of God. Leaving aside very real questions about contradictory aspects of various combinations of the omni-attributes, there is absolutely no logical contradiction in having many entities all having identical qualities according to some particular measure.

You define God as " a being who is eternal, wholly good, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent being." So? I could define God as a lump of rock. Your definition is irrelevant to what the actual attributes of any supreme being that may be shown to exist. You are simply assuming that a God such as you define does exist, you have no basis for asserting a priori that he does, or that any actual creator God actually does have that set of attributes, There is nothing self-contradictory about a supreme being not having all or any of those attributes, only a contradiction with your preconceived definition. Who devised that definition, and how was it formulated?

EDIT: To repeat, I am not relying on claiming your God is self-contradictory, just that we now have far better, tho still imperfect, explanations for the nature and origins of the Universe, which rely on a vast amount of empirical evidence, which taken togethers provides a vastly more solid basis for establishing the degree of confidence we can have in its validity, because of how much correlation we have been data and theories across many different avenues of study. They include insights into both the fundamental nature of matter and energy, and into the nature of life and consciousness, which philosophy and metaphysics utterly missed.

All you have is a set of speculations, which may indeed be theoretically not impossible, but which imply no predictions  about either the nature of the Universe as we are revealing it by science, or any remotely verifiable assertions about the ultimate nature of reality, and in fact historically have been associated with seriously mistaken ideas about the nature of the Universe.

So the assumption of no God, and the idea of gaining knowledge of reality by actually studying, it is ultimately a vastly more useful and parsimonious framework for revealing genuine new understanding of the nature of reality than a million years of sitting on your butt and thinking about God.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Bloody_Cross wrote:I'm not

Bloody_Cross wrote:

I'm not sure what you mean.  For starters, "ontological" and "metaphysical" do not mean the same thing, so I'm not sure why "(i.e. metaphysical)" is written after "ontological."  Second, are you claiming that a definition is meaningful only if the thing defined actually exists?

What I was getting at was than an epistemic assertion needs an ontological referent (that is something that exists in some context, imaginative or actual) in order to have meaning. I asserted this explicitly in the last post...

A consistent definition for metaphysics is hard to come by, but as I understand it, it is the study of being, which would be ontology. Some see it as a superset of ontology while others see it as the same thing. I don't care to split hairs on this difference because it would derail the discussion.

Bloody_Cross wrote:

The argument concludes that God is actual by making the inference from the contents of the idea.  This is the complete opposite of begging the question.  It is including a multitude of premises prior to the conclusion. So, it cannot be the existential proposition of God that begs the question.  It would have to be one of the premises.  As an atheist, the only one you could point to is the premise that God is possible.

The problem is the idea already has an ontological referent, but this says nothing about the actuality of it, only something about the ontological context that the definition assumes. You could have a billion premises between the conclusion and the definition, but if the conclusion only reasserts the definition it's question begging. I do not think it is explicitly begging the question because it comes in the guise of an epistemic assertion, but as I said, I think that such assertions are meaningless apart from an ontological referent. If this is the case, then it is question begging.

Bloody_Cross wrote:

Anselm has a right to posit any definition of "God" that he wants.  You take an utterance and you attach it to a description.  Anselm attached "God" to "the greatest conceivable being."  There is nothing wrong with doing that.

The conclusion of the argument is that God exists in reality.  The assumption is that additional greatness is provided to those beings whose nonexistence is logically impossible, which I have no reason not to believe.

Anselm makes the same mistake when he asserts something about an antualized ontology here: " But it is greater for a thing to exist in reality than for it to exist in the understanding alone." He makes an assertion about ontology a priori, which causes him to beg the question. How does he know that this premise about an actualized or nonactualized world is necessarily true a priori without assuming its true? There is reason to believe that it is a naked assertion because Buddhists think the greatest virtue one can have is nonexistence by ceasing to exist. In short, this great-making property is an arbitrary value judgment that is assumed, such that any ontological argument using it as a premise ends up begging the question....

Bloody_Cross wrote:

The actual world would be included in the set of every possible world.  This isn't begging the question, it is logical requirement of the word "every."

This assumes that the actual world is as the possible world, which is why I think it is question begging. I was asserting that the proposed possible worlds are possible under ontological context assumed by the definition, but this says nothing about the  actualized world. The actual world may or may not be in the set of possible world in the ontological context you are assuming, but there is no way to know aside from begging the question. For all you know, the actualized world may be an impossible world in for the assumed ontological context. If you assert that is included in your possible worlds scenario, then I think you are begging the question because you are assuming the the ontological context assumed by the definition is the ontological context the actual world exists in, then you conclude that a god necessarily exists. But you assume such is the case a priori, and around we go...

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”


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Any logical argument can

 

Any logical argument can only, by its nature, demonstrate whether one set of propositions is or is not logically compatible with another, ie whether accepting both sets would entail a contradiction. It can say nothing about whether any particular proposition is true or not, assuming it is internally consistent.

Actually there are at least two other categories that a proposition can fall into, apart from TRUE or FALSE:

1. It can be incoherent, ie not possible to form into clear logical statements from, IOW just nonsense;

2. Undecideable, as per Gõdel, such as the classic "This sentence is false",  or "The barber shaves everyone who does not shave himself".

This means that failure to prove something false cannot be taken as proof that it is true and valid - you have to prove it is a well-formed proposition and that the elements of the statements refer to clearly defined and delimited entities or qualities. Makes it difficult when you try to plug in infinities, and highly subjective qualities such as "greatest"...

It would seem to me that much of the Ontological argument falls into the second category, especially as it is highly self-referential and/or somewhat circular, major causes of undecideable statements.

But of course, Bloody_Cross, as an expert in logic, you would have known all this....

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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Famous philosophers have

Famous philosophers have formed reasoned ideas in their minds about many issues. These have included the idea that the Sun and indeed  everything in the Universe went around the earth, that heavier objects must fall faster than light objects, that everything beyond the orbit of the moon was of a fundamentally different nature from that below, that objects needed continual input of energy to keep them moving, that our brain was an organ for cooling the blood, nothing more, even that flies only had four legs.

All of these ideas were shown to be unequivocally wrong.

Non-empirical thought is mostly in error at some level, especially about anything beyond our everyday experience, and often even about everyday things.

To base any assertion of what exists, merely by reference to ideas formulated by or conceivable to a human mind, without empirical corroboration, is the uttermost foolishness, manifestly and deeply ignorant of vast amounts of examples which demonstrate the absurdity of such an idea.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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BobSpence1

BobSpence1 wrote:

Bloody_Cross, I wrestle with real logic everyday, in the form of computers and computer programs, which are pure logic, and are totally intolerant of faulty logic.

Then I take it you have studied logic formally, which is to say, you've taken actual classes dealing specifically with logic (not computer programming) and went through pages upon pages of exercises involving propositional calculus, modal logic, temporal logic, syllogistic logic, predicate logic, and so on?

Would you classify yourself as a logician on par with Quine, Frege, and Russell?

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You aren't going to get anywhere appealing to authority - authority figures, especially in philosophy and metaphysics, are notoriously unreliable.

I'm not appealing to any authority.  I'm trying to understand what qualifies you to, with a mere handwave, dismiss an entire discipline simply on the grounds that it lends credence to a conclusion that you do not like. 

I think I've made my point.  You are not a logician.  You are not even a philosopher.  You have no business whatsoever even discussing the ontological argument, let alone the logic under which it is formalized.

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I have probably been considering these topics much longer than you have, with a background in an engineering degree, which I achieved with Honours, after having come in the top few percent of my state in high school graduation. I will not pretend this makes me infallible, but I do have some actual basis for my confidence.

So engineers are suddenly the go-to men with regard to metaphysical issues?!  Should I start asking biologists how to write music, or ask astrophysicists how to properly cook a turkey for Thanksgiving? 


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ubuntuAnyone wrote:What I

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

What I was getting at was than an epistemic assertion needs an ontological referent (that is something that exists in some context, imaginative or actual) in order to have meaning. I asserted this explicitly in the last post...

One of your main issues is your constant misuse of terms.  What in God's name is an "epistemic assertion"?  "Epistemic" means "pertaining to knowledge."  An epistemic assertion would be a statement such as, "I know that God exists."  Where in the argument does any sort of epistemic assertion occur?  I'm not trying to be rude, but when you equivocate on terms like that, it just confuses everything that you say and makes your overall rebuttal so abstruse as to become practically illegible.  Learn what words mean before you use them, and then make an argument.  I'll reply to you as best I can.

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A consistent definition for metaphysics is hard to come by, but as I understand it, it is the study of being, which would be ontology. Some see it as a superset of ontology while others see it as the same thing. I don't care to split hairs on this difference because it would derail the discussion.

Metaphysics is the study of being.  Ontology is the study of the kinds of things that are.  All of ontology is an exercise in metaphysics, but not all metaphysics is an exercise in ontology.  Metaphysics can include the study of change, form/matter, actuality/potentiality, cause/effect, etc.

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The problem is the idea already has an ontological referent, but this says nothing about the actuality of it, only something about the ontological context that the definition assumes. You could have a billion premises between the conclusion and the definition, but if the conclusion only reasserts the definition it's question begging. I do not think it is explicitly begging the question because it comes in the guise of an epistemic assertion, but as I said, I think that such assertions are meaningless apart from an ontological referent. If this is the case, then it is question begging.

There you go again.  What is an "ontological referent"?  Are there any examples of ideas which do not have ontological referents, if by the term, you don't mean "actually existing thing"?  Is this a distinction between words signifying real things and those signifying abstract things?  This is so unclear from what you are writing.

The conclusion does not reassert the definition.  It is a necessary implication of the definition, since existing necessarily is a great-making attribute.

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Anselm makes the same mistake when he asserts something about an antualized ontology here: " But it is greater for a thing to exist in reality than for it to exist in the understanding alone." He makes an assertion about ontology a priori, which causes him to beg the question. How does he know that this premise about an actualized or nonactualized world is necessarily true a priori without assuming its true? There is reason to believe that it is a naked assertion because Buddhists think the greatest virtue one can have is nonexistence by ceasing to exist. In short, this great-making property is an arbitrary value judgment that is assumed, such that any ontological argument using it as a premise ends up begging the question....

It's hard for me to respond to any of this.  At this point, you've gone off the dead end with the reconditeness.

He makes an assertion about the kinds of things that exist without justification in experience?  So what?  That's what metaphysicians do.  They use pure reasoning in an attempt to even make sense of the fact that we know things after we perceive them. 

How does he know that what premise about an actualized world... what?  Anselm doesn't even make that argument.  That's Platinga's argument.

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This assumes that the actual world is as the possible world, which is why I think it is question begging. I was asserting that the proposed possible worlds are possible under ontological context assumed by the definition, but this says nothing about the  actualized world. The actual world may or may not be in the set of possible world in the ontological context you are assuming, but there is no way to know aside from begging the question. For all you know, the actualized world may be an impossible world in for the assumed ontological context. If you assert that is included in your possible worlds scenario, then I think you are begging the question because you are assuming the the ontological context assumed by the definition is the ontological context the actual world exists in, then you conclude that a god necessarily exists. But you assume such is the case a priori, and around we go...

No, every possible world means.. every world.  Your argument is like saying:  "Every apple is fruit, but that one apple in Japan is not a fruit because it is not included in the set of apples, even though I just called it an apple."


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Bloody_Cross

Bloody_Cross wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

Bloody_Cross, I wrestle with real logic everyday, in the form of computers and computer programs, which are pure logic, and are totally intolerant of faulty logic.

Then I take it you have studied logic formally, which is to say, you've taken actual classes dealing specifically with logic (not computer programming) and went through pages upon pages of exercises involving propositional calculus, modal logic, temporal logic, syllogistic logic, predicate logic, and so on?

Would you classify yourself as a logician on par with Quine, Frege, and Russell?

Quote:
You aren't going to get anywhere appealing to authority - authority figures, especially in philosophy and metaphysics, are notoriously unreliable.

I'm not appealing to any authority.  I'm trying to understand what qualifies you to, with a mere handwave, dismiss an entire discipline simply on the grounds that it lends credence to a conclusion that you do not like. 

I think I've made my point.  You are not a logician.  You are not even a philosopher.  You have no business whatsoever even discussing the ontological argument, let alone the logic under which it is formalized.

Quote:
I have probably been considering these topics much longer than you have, with a background in an engineering degree, which I achieved with Honours, after having come in the top few percent of my state in high school graduation. I will not pretend this makes me infallible, but I do have some actual basis for my confidence.

So engineers are suddenly the go-to men with regard to metaphysical issues?!  Should I start asking biologists how to write music, or ask astrophysicists how to properly cook a turkey for Thanksgiving? 

This whole response amounts to little more than an appeal to authority. You are not addressing my arguments and objections. What else other than an appeal to authority do the references to Quine, Frege, and Russell amount to?  I should mention that I have long admired Russell, one of the few Philosophers I do really respect. The others I also have a lot of respect for are David Hume, and among contemporaries, Daniel Dennett.

Having recently listened to a series of podcasts addressing the work and life of many famous philosophers, my opinion of the discipline as represented  by such examples has plummeted further.

You have not addressed my arguments, merely questioned my qualifications to address what you presented. 

I dismiss a whole discipline when I see it as representing a pointless waste of effort, adding nothing useful to human understanding. My posts explained what I saw as the deep flaws in the argument, they were not simple dismissals. I gave examples of the inherent invalidity of any attempt to derive actual verifiable knowledge about external reality from the ideas occurring to a mere human mind.

Philosophy is not an empirical study, therefore it is essentially speculation.

My reference to my educational background was to point out that I have a solid intellectual capacity.

I would no more consider metaphysics worthy of consideration than Alchemy.

Your last sentences is a sad attempt at ridicule which so stupidly misconstrues what I was saying that it alone demonstrates that you really are intellectually challenged and probably just smart enough to recognize when you are out-classed and feel the need to lash out. I certainly would not recommend asking engineers for advice on such subjects, as far too many of them are in the ranks of fundies and creationists. I complemented my education with a lifetime of reading on science, and initially much philosophy, until I realized how much philosophy is so ultimately sterile.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Hi Bloody, a few discussion points.

 

Now, knowledge is not a thing and you define god's presence as knowledge down to the smallest grain of sand. Is this what you mean by an immaterial, all knowing god? That god in some way is the substanceless stuff of knowledge?

Additionally, the only way to store 'knowledge' of the state of a particle is with a mirror particle. This means god's knowledge would have to have some physical presence - even if at the subatomic level?

Just in general, I think it's fine and enjoyable and proper to discuss things other than the results of raw testing. But don't you think these discussions should be limited to what is consistent with the data?

 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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BobSpence1 wrote:This whole

BobSpence1 wrote:

This whole response amounts to little more than an appeal to authority. You are not addressing my arguments and objections. What else other than an appeal to authority do the references to Quine, Frege, and Russell amount to?  I should mention that I have long admired Russell, one of the few Philosophers I do really respect. The others I also have a lot of respect for are David Hume, and among contemporaries, Daniel Dennett.

The response wasn't an appeal to authority, it was an appeal to the fact that Bob Spence has no authority to make blanket statements regarding Modal Logic, philosophy, metaphysics, and the like.

Interestingly enough, Bertrand Russell has the following to say with regard to the ontological argument:  "Clearly an argument with such a distinguished history is to be treated with respect, whether valid or not (A History of Western Philosophy, p. 417)."  Your statements show no respect for Russell or what he accomplished.

I'm not really interested in discussing anything further with you anymore than I'd wish to discuss the stock market with a pre-schooler.  The level of discourse would be the same.

Have a lovely fucking night.


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Atheistextremist wrote:Now,

Atheistextremist wrote:

Now, knowledge is not a thing and you define god's presence as knowledge down to the smallest grain of sand. Is this what you mean by an immaterial, all knowing god? That god in some way is the substanceless stuff of knowledge?

Of course knowledge is a thing.  You are making knowledge claims as we speak. 

Omnipresence just means that you cannot hide from God, no matter where you go.  What we normally mean by "present" is that we occupy some location where we have epistemic access to what is going on around us and can somehow influence what is going on, either intentionally or unintentionally.  Let's say that someone murders a relative of mine and you ask me, "Why didn't you save her?"  It wouldn't be unreasonable for me to argue that I wasn't present when it happened becuase that would imply that I had no capacity to influence what was going on nor was I able to know that it was going on at the time.  God, on the other hand, is always able to influence what goes on and always knows what is going on, even if he is not extended in some particular spatial location. 

Immaterial means that God has no physical body.  But as we've just established, he can still be present, just not physically present.

Quote:
Additionally, the only way to store 'knowledge' of the state of a particle is with a mirror particle. This means god's knowledge would have to have some physical presence - even if at the subatomic level?

I'm not sure what you mean.  If God is omniscient, then he would know all anti-quarks in addition to the corresponding quarks.  Knowing does not require physical presence.  I know that Jupiter exists and I am not physically present on Jupiter.


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Bloody_Cross

Bloody_Cross wrote:

Atheistextremist wrote:

Now, knowledge is not a thing and you define god's presence as knowledge down to the smallest grain of sand. Is this what you mean by an immaterial, all knowing god? That god in some way is the substanceless stuff of knowledge?

Of course knowledge is a thing.  You are making knowledge claims as we speak. 

Omnipresence just means that you cannot hide from God, no matter where you go.  What we normally mean by "present" is that we occupy some location where we have epistemic access to what is going on around us and can somehow influence what is going on, either intentionally or unintentionally.  Let's say that someone murders a relative of mine and you ask me, "Why didn't you save her?"  It wouldn't be unreasonable for me to argue that I wasn't present when it happened becuase that would imply that I had no capacity to influence what was going on nor was I able to know that it was going on at the time.  God, on the other hand, is always able to influence what goes on and always knows what is going on, even if he is not extended in some particular spatial location. 

Immaterial means that God has no physical body.  But as we've just established, he can still be present, just not physically present.

Quote:
Additionally, the only way to store 'knowledge' of the state of a particle is with a mirror particle. This means god's knowledge would have to have some physical presence - even if at the subatomic level?

I'm not sure what you mean.  If God is omniscient, then he would know all anti-quarks in addition to the corresponding quarks.  Knowing does not require physical presence.  I know that Jupiter exists and I am not physically present on Jupiter.

Knowledge is a thing? Please list its components.

God can't be physically present? So he's not omnipotent?

He means that there would have to be a physical analog to store the information about this immaterial God (I think).

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


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Bloody_Cross wrote:One of

Bloody_Cross wrote:


One of your main issues is your constant misuse of terms.  What in God's name is an "epistemic assertion"?  "Epistemic" means "pertaining to knowledge."  An epistemic assertion would be a statement such as, "I know that God exists."  Where in the argument does any sort of epistemic assertion occur?  I'm not trying to be rude, but when you equivocate on terms like that, it just confuses everything that you say and makes your overall rebuttal so abstruse as to become practically illegible.  Learn what words mean before you use them, and then make an argument.  I'll reply to you as best I can.



Definitions are epistemic assertion. "god: (n) the greatest possible conceivable being" This is a knowledge claim about a god. I don't think the problem is with my use of terms, but your lack of understanding of your own argument. Before you start criticizing my use of terms, I think you'd do good to understand your own argument.

Bloody_Cross wrote:


There you go again.  What is an "ontological referent"?  Are there any examples of ideas which do not have ontological referents, if by the term, you don't mean "actually existing thing"?  Is this a distinction between words signifying real things and those signifying abstract things?  This is so unclear from what you are writing.



I think you're trying to pigeon hole me as a verficationist. I will say it again for the third time. Definitions in order to have meaning have to have an ontological referent...that is something that exist in some ontological context...it does NOT have to actually exist. Pixies and dragons exist in the ontological context of fairy tales but don't actually exist....I'm sorry you don't understand but there's no mystery to it.

Bloody_Cross wrote:


The conclusion does not reassert the definition.  It is a necessary implication of the definition, since existing necessarily is a great-making attribute.



But that is only as good as the ontology that is assumed by the definition. If that is the  case then it is question begging. It says noting about the actual world, or if it does, its only by dumb like, not because one has a priori knowledge of such things. If one did, he or she would have a posteriori knowledge, and that would doom the argument's deductive strength.

Bloody_Cross wrote:

It's hard for me to respond to any of this.  At this point, you've gone off the dead end with the reconditeness.

He makes an assertion about the kinds of things that exist without justification in experience?  So what?  That's what metaphysicians do.  They use pure reasoning in an attempt to even make sense of the fact that we know things after we perceive them.

How does he know that what premise about an actualized world... what?  Anselm doesn't even make that argument.  That's Platinga's argument.

My thoughts may seem esoteric to you, but that's not because they're not true... I once thought as you do, until I realized the fundamental problem I'm pointing out. And writing them off as such is not a refutation, rather an appeal to ignorance.

If metaphysics is the study of being, cause, etc, and you make assertions about such things without experience, then you may as well be crystal ball gazing and metaphysics becomes a little more than navel gazing. This is one of biggest criticism that metaphysics receives. Just because this is what metaphysicians  "do" does not make it right or good. A good metaphysician should work to understand what he perceives to be the actualized world, but if all one does is make a priori assertions about reality, which Anselm does, there is no grounding for such things. Anselm doesn't make that argument, and that is the problem and the very reason it is a naked assertion and nothing more. It says nothing necessarily true about reality and for that reason the conclusion says nothing about reality, only about the assumption about reality. This is one of the biggest problems with any sort of assertion about reality drawn from modalities which WL Craig and Plantinga like to do. All I'm doing is suggesting that any a priori definition about something assumes some sort of ontological context such that any conclusion based on this assumption only bootstraps the assumption, and is why I think it is question begging.

Bloody_Cross wrote:


No, every possible world means.. every world.  Your argument is like saying:  "Every apple is fruit, but that one apple in Japan is not a fruit because it is not included in the set of apples, even though I just called it an apple."



I'm saying something like this: "A fnord is a spandoozle. In all possible worlds where fnords exist, spandoozles exist". The original definition makes an ontological assumption. The conclusion is based on the ontological context assumed by the definition, not something about an actualized world. It would be dumb luck if the definition said anything meaningful about the actual world, but I can't know this without begging the question.  Simply replace fnords and spandoozles with apples and fruit. "An apple is a fruit. In all possible worlds where apples exist, fruit exists". In order for knowledge of apples and fruit to be a priori, I cannot have observed them. Now it want to assert that something necessarily exists in all possible worlds, you're doing the exact same thing Anselm does by making a naked, ungrounded assertion about reality, and conclusions reassert that reality..that's why I think it is question begging.

 

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Bloody_Cross

Bloody_Cross wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

This whole response amounts to little more than an appeal to authority. You are not addressing my arguments and objections. What else other than an appeal to authority do the references to Quine, Frege, and Russell amount to?  I should mention that I have long admired Russell, one of the few Philosophers I do really respect. The others I also have a lot of respect for are David Hume, and among contemporaries, Daniel Dennett.

The response wasn't an appeal to authority, it was an appeal to the fact that Bob Spence has no authority to make blanket statements regarding Modal Logic, philosophy, metaphysics, and the like.

Interestingly enough, Bertrand Russell has the following to say with regard to the ontological argument:  "Clearly an argument with such a distinguished history is to be treated with respect, whether valid or not (A History of Western Philosophy, p. 417)."  Your statements show no respect for Russell or what he accomplished.

I'm not really interested in discussing anything further with you anymore than I'd wish to discuss the stock market with a pre-schooler.  The level of discourse would be the same.

Have a lovely fucking night.

I have shown no disrespect for Russell - note that "St. Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell, have openly criticized it."  -from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontological_argument

You are the one who shows no respect for all those guys, by not mentioning the fact that they all criticised it, including Russell. "A History of Western Philosophy" was my first major introduction to Philosophy. I rather suspect Russell was being a little ironic there - it would be consistent with his character as I observed it on TV and radio broadcasts I saw/heard as a child.

It is worth discussing as an interesting example of the strange modes of 'thought' the human mind will resort to to support a preconceived belief, not as a serious argument.

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Things

Bloody_Cross wrote:

Atheistextremist wrote:

Now, knowledge is not a thing and you define god's presence as knowledge down to the smallest grain of sand. Is this what you mean by an immaterial, all knowing god? That god in some way is the substanceless stuff of knowledge?

Of course knowledge is a thing.  You are making knowledge claims as we speak. 

Omnipresence just means that you cannot hide from God, no matter where you go.  What we normally mean by "present" is that we occupy some location where we have epistemic access to what is going on around us and can somehow influence what is going on, either intentionally or unintentionally.  Let's say that someone murders a relative of mine and you ask me, "Why didn't you save her?"  It wouldn't be unreasonable for me to argue that I wasn't present when it happened becuase that would imply that I had no capacity to influence what was going on nor was I able to know that it was going on at the time.  God, on the other hand, is always able to influence what goes on and always knows what is going on, even if he is not extended in some particular spatial location. 

Immaterial means that God has no physical body.  But as we've just established, he can still be present, just not physically present.

Quote:
Additionally, the only way to store 'knowledge' of the state of a particle is with a mirror particle. This means god's knowledge would have to have some physical presence - even if at the subatomic level?

I'm not sure what you mean.  If God is omniscient, then he would know all anti-quarks in addition to the corresponding quarks.  Knowing does not require physical presence.  I know that Jupiter exists and I am not physically present on Jupiter.

 

It's obvious to me, Bloody, we will not agree on the key elements of this thread but it's interesting to understand your point of view.

I mean knowledge as a physical thing. As I mentioned earlier, this discussion relates in part to where we stand on separability of substance. Does knowledge, does a concept held in the mind, have a physical presence? On one hand I'd be inclined to say that an idea conceived and stored in the human brain is a thing and available data suggests it has a physical presence whether we fully understand the nature of this presence or not.

The idea of god as an idea then, might be an actual thing, but that does not mean the subject of the idea has any existence in actuality - same as no mythical or fantasy creatures exist in reality. I struggle with your claim "we have just established god can have a presence without being physically present". We've not. You've simply made an unsubstantiated assertion that is not supported by the ontological argument, or any other argument that I know of. Only actual data could support such a huge claim but no data supporting this assertion exists.

Really, what I'm asking about god is whether it's possible for us to say he knows anything without detection of a physical presence of some sort. You know Jupiter exists because as a kid in science you saw pictures of it and you watched Schumaker-Levy collide with it on TV and so on. But that knowledge is stored somewhere in your physical brain, isn't it? Nor is it comprehensive. It's an idea about an idea of a thing. While you 'know' there's a Jupiter, you don't really know anything about Jupiter much less comprehend it down to the last quark in all possible dimensions in real time.

Such knowledge would require multi-dimensional state sensing and data storage and a location in which a form of consciousness could become aware of everything that it knew without turning its template of consciousness off - ever - and you are claiming this profound atomic knowledge applies to the whole of the universe down to it's smallest components. Here we have something you say is fact but it's not even possible to conceive the complexity of it and we cannot detect it.  Bloody, how can you make your hugely specific claims without resorting to assertion or, more pointedly in the case of the ontological argument, appealing to ignorance?

 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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 UbuntuAnyone, I admire

 UbuntuAnyone, I admire your dogged persistence with this person, I have no more time or patience....

I pretty much agree with the grounds you are challenging him on.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Definitions are epistemic assertion. "god: (n) the greatest possible conceivable being" This is a knowledge claim about a god. I don't think the problem is with my use of terms, but your lack of understanding of your own argument. Before you start criticizing my use of terms, I think you'd do good to understand your own argument.

I've been reading philosophy for a long time and I've not once read a single person, scholarly or otherwise, who used the term "epistemic assertion" with respect to definitions.  Can you point me to at least one publication where someone refers to a definition as an "epistemic assertion"?


Quote:
I think you're trying to pigeon hole me as a verficationist.

No, I'm saying that I have no clue what you are because you have no clue what any of these words actually mean and when you use them, you argument becomes totally unreadable.  It makes absolutely no sense. 

Quote:
I will say it again for the third time. Definitions in order to have meaning have to have an ontological referent...that is something that exist in some ontological context...it does NOT have to actually exist. Pixies and dragons exist in the ontological context of fairy tales but don't actually exist....I'm sorry you don't understand but there's no mystery to it.

Nobody understands this except for you because it makes absolutely no sense.  If you presented this to an actual philosophy professor, you would have him confused beyond belief because you take your own creative liberties with common philosophical parlance and use it in ways that no philosopher actually uses it.

Of course definitions have a referent.  A definition, by definition, is taking a single word and using it to refer to something.  So you've made no interesting points here at all.

Quote:
But that is only as good as the ontology that is assumed by the definition.

Definitions do not make claims about what exists in reality, abstractly, or otherwise.  For example, the sentence "All apples are fruit that grows on trees" is not the same as the sentence "There exists a tree with apples on it."  In the same way, if I say, "God is that than which nothing greater can be thought", that is not the same thing as saying, "There is a God."  No ontology is assumed whatsoever, definitions make no assertion about what actually is or isn't.

Quote:
My thoughts may seem esoteric to you

No, do not construe my confusion as your ramblings somehow being esoteric, arcane, or profound.  My contention, here, is that everything you are saying is practically meaningless.  It would be like if I said: "Porcupies drive soundly more than a wall's jealousy is blue."

Quote:
If metaphysics is the study of being, cause, etc, and you make assertions about such things without experience, then you may as well be crystal ball gazing and metaphysics becomes a little more than navel gazing.

And your basis for this is what? 

Quote:
This is one of biggest criticism that metaphysics receives.

The only people who criticize metaphysics are those who do not understand it.  

Quote:
A good metaphysician should work to understand what he perceives to be the actualized world, but if all one does is make a priori assertions about reality, which Anselm does, there is no grounding for such things.

And your basis for this is what? 


Quote:
I'm saying something like this: "A fnord is a spandoozle. In all possible worlds where fnords exist, spandoozles exist". The original definition makes an ontological assumption. The conclusion is based on the ontological context assumed by the definition, not something about an actualized world. It would be dumb luck if the definition said anything meaningful about the actual world, but I can't know this without begging the question.  Simply replace fnords and spandoozles with apples and fruit. "An apple is a fruit. In all possible worlds where apples exist, fruit exists". In order for knowledge of apples and fruit to be a priori, I cannot have observed them. Now it want to assert that something necessarily exists in all possible worlds, you're doing the exact same thing Anselm does by making a naked, ungrounded assertion about reality, and conclusions reassert that reality..that's why I think it is question begging.

None of this has anything to do with what I've just stated.  Your claim was that the actual world is not included in the set of all possible worlds and that is just false.


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Bloody_Cross wrote:I've been

Bloody_Cross wrote:

I've been reading philosophy for a long time and I've not once read a single person, scholarly or otherwise, who used the term "epistemic assertion" with respect to definitions.  Can you point me to at least one publication where someone refers to a definition as an "epistemic assertion"?

I'm not sure why you're asking this. What's the problem? Google it if you think it is B.S. What about that statement is not true? Just because no one else has never said it does not make it true. What about the ontological argument before it was the ontological argument. No single person, scholarly or otherwise used the argument in respect to the existence of god. Does that make it utter B.S.? This is a red herring.

Bloody_Cross wrote:

No, I'm saying that I have no clue what you are because you have no clue what any of these words actually mean and when you use them, you argument becomes totally unreadable.  It makes absolutely no sense.

Nobody understands this except for you because it makes absolutely no sense.  If you presented this to an actual philosophy professor, you would have him confused beyond belief because you take your own creative liberties with common philosophical parlance and use it in ways that no philosopher actually uses it.

Bob_Spence has no problem understanding it...I'd contend that other don't either. Why can't you?

You're whole argument now against what I'm saying is "No one understands" and that I'm redefining words. Problem is, I've taught philosophy at a graduate level before and my students understood without a problem. Maybe this is over your head rather than being meaningless, which is a discrete possibility considering the fact that there is at least one other person who gets it.

Bloody_Cross wrote:

Of course definitions have a referent.  A definition, by definition, is taking a single word and using it to refer to something.  So you've made no interesting points here at all.

Definitions do not make claims about what exists in reality, abstractly, or otherwise.  For example, the sentence "All apples are fruit that grows on trees" is not the same as the sentence "There exists a tree with apples on it."  In the same way, if I say, "God is that than which nothing greater can be thought", that is not the same thing as saying, "There is a God."  No ontology is assumed whatsoever, definitions make no assertion about what actually is or isn't.

Definitions refer to things that exist in some ontological context....Otherwise they are meaningless. So, yes, there is something about ontology that is assumed. My point is that defining anything a priori requires a referent which is something that exists in some ontological context. Ontological arguments therefore cannot be purely a priori or they are meaningless.

Bloody_Cross wrote:

Quote:
If metaphysics is the study of being, cause, etc, and you make assertions about such things without experience, then you may as well be crystal ball gazing and metaphysics becomes a little more than navel gazing.

And your basis for this is what?

The only people who criticize metaphysics are those who do not understand it. 

It's at least apparent that you understand something, which suggests that the whole argument about the meaninglessness of my statement is a big, fat, juicy red herring.

The basis for that is simply that there is no grounding... did you not read the whole post?

Bloody_Cross wrote:

None of this has anything to do with what I've just stated.  Your claim was that the actual world is not included in the set of all possible worlds and that is just false.

See, you misunderstood the original assertion. I'm beginning to think that it's not that my arguments aren't clear, but that either you are not taking the time understand them or you lack the capacity to understand them.

Here are 3 different scenarios:

1.) Fish exist necessarily in all possible worlds.

2.) Spookhollers necessarily exist in in all possible worlds.

3.) Wildonkas are magic wands that sustain worlds. Wildonkas necessarily exist in all possible worlds.

For 1 I know that the actual world exists in this set if all possible world because fish exist in the possible world. For 2, I have no idea what Spookhollers are, so I have no idea if the set of all possible worlds contains the actual world. Spookhollers are meaningless without some sort of referent that exist in some ontological context. For 3, I define Wildonkas as as being necessary entities in all possible world therefore conclude they exist in all possible worlds. But this is purely speculative as Wildonkas may or may not exist in the actual world, and for this reason I do not know whether the actual world is is my set of all possible worlds as defined my the scenario. At least with the first one, I didn't define fish, I just asserted it. (It  is not necssarily true that fish exist in all possible worlds this was for arguments sake only).

 

 

 

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Bloody_Cross wrote:No, every

Bloody_Cross wrote:

No, every possible world means.. every world.  Your argument is like saying:  "Every apple is fruit, but that one apple in Japan is not a fruit because it is not included in the set of apples, even though I just called it an apple."

Rethinking:

Just to clarify, "every world" does NOT equate to "every possible world", since being "possible" does not equate to "actual" or "exists".

in principle, there may be no actual worlds, despite a large number of "possible" worlds. 

An 'expert' in modal logic should know that 'possible' does not mean 'necessary'...

so every possible world DOES NOT mean.. every world.

It seems that Bloody_Cross does not have a good personal understanding of logic, but is largely repeating what he has read and been instructed on this topic. Instead of presenting counter-arguments, he either demands to know what authority or training his opponent has to base his objection on, or professes not to understand what has been said, since he apparently has limited ability to formulate his own arguments. He already conceded to me earlier that the main points weren't his own actual arguments.

Can he present a refutation of Immanuel Kant's strong rebuttal of the Ontological Argument? Or instead will he accuse Kant of not understanding philosophy or logic....

Platinga's expression of the OA in modal terms could literally apply to almost any proposed entity. It therefore ultimately is a clear demonstration of the massive problems of the modal form, in apparently allowing a simple slide from 'possible' to 'does exist', merely by changing the way the idea is inserted into modal expressions in successive statements, and throwing a "therefore" into the final sentence...

EDIT: I am entertaining seriously the thought that this person is a Troll...

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BobSpence1 wrote:Can he

BobSpence1 wrote:

Can he present a refutation of Immanuel Kant's strong rebuttal of the Ontological Argument? Or instead will he accuse Kant of not understanding philosophy or logic....

From the original post:

From all of this, it is clear that Gaunilo's objection fails. But this does not mean that Anselm's argument is sound. For it was Immanuel Kant who delivered what many take to be the staunchest objection to the argument. As an interesting footnote, Kant was actually the first person (as far as we know) to refer to the argument as the "ontological argument." Moreover, even though many philosophers consistently invoke Kant as being one of Anselm‘s chief detractors, it is questionable as to whether or not Kant himself was directing this rebuttal towards Anselm specifically. Nevertheless, according to Kant, the central flaw in the inference to God’s real existence from the contents of the idea is the treatment of existence as being something which a subject possesses, i.e., a predicate. To Kant, existence itself is not anything which is added to a concept; it is merely the is of a judgment, which serves to connect a subject to its predicate. As such, the statement "God is" is hardly a statement at all. Instead, it's an incomplete sentence, which, from the perspective of the opposing interlocutor, says nothing meaningful about the idea which it attempts to put forth. For it simply posits the object in relation to whoever is conceiving it, which may be demonstrative of the possibility of the object, but not of its actuality. For Kant, we can never infer the actual from the possible. Otherwise, the currency of a hundred possible dollars would be equal to that of a hundred actual dollars, which is clearly absurd. Therefore, according to Kantians, Anselm's argument may support the possibility of God, but not His actuality.

For many, it is taken for granted that Kant soundly defeated Anselm. But is it true? In order for Kant's objection to work against Anselm, it must be established that Anselm somehow had a misconception about the idea of existence. The problem, however, is that it is not so clear that this actually applies to Anselm's argument. Kantians would probably point specifically to the third premise, which states that something existing solely in the mind is less great than it would be if it existed in reality. But it can be argued that what Anselm treats as a predicate here is not existence, but concreteness and/or abstractness. As such, it does not appear that Anselm has any difficulty operating in accordance with Kant’s semantic guideposts; given the set of all that is contained in the concept, concreteness or abstractness would contribute to the cardinality. Thus, once the atheist grants that God is the greatest conceivable being, s/he becomes caught in a self-contradiction; inevitably adhering to the idea that the greatest conceivable being can be, insofar that it is greater to be concrete than it is to be abstract, conceived to be greater than He is. This is true, even if existence is not a predicate. Therefore, Kant's objection fails against Anselm.

 


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It is totally irrelevant to

It is totally irrelevant to the truth value of a statement as it applies to objective reality as to what a human mind is capable of conceiving of.

The examples of people conceiving of things which are utterly and incontrovertibly incorrect and impossible are  legion.

So it seems you can only attempt to defend against Kant's objections by appealing back to St Anselm's original fallacious 'reasoning'. Thank you for confirming that there really is no counter to Kant.

I was looking for an actual serious attempt at refuting Kant, not a slight expansion of the original argument.

I am not actually a great 'fan' of Kant, but I think he nailed it here.

St Anselm was a fuckwit. Even many of his contemporaries in the church were not impressed by his argument, but churchmen are naturally going to be reluctant to be seen questioning any argument intended to prove the existence of God, especially one associated with a prominent colleague.

Even Platinga is equivolcal about the OA:

"Interestingly, Plantinga himself does not think the modal ontological argument is always a good proof of the existence of God. It depends on what his interlocutor thinks of the possibility premise. Nonetheless, Plantinga has suggested that because we do not have any evidence against the possibility premise, it might be reasonable to suppose it has a probability of 50/50." -from the Wikipedia article on the OA.

I do find it curious to see someone say that any given argument is "not ... always a good proof of the existence of God". Surely it is either a good proof or not?

I think that for many members of the church the OA is and always has been an embarrassment, which I think is why apologetics like Plantinga are driven to try and 'dress it up' a bit, give it some vague plausibility.

 

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BobSpence
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I should thank you,

I should thank you, Bloody_Cross, for getting me stirred up enough about this crap to read a little more about the context of Plantinga's updating of the OA.

I had bumped him down in my estimation several points when I first heard that had put forward a version of the OA, but now I see the context, I think I can cut him a bit more slack.

I do not hold apologetics in high regard, you will not be surprised to learn, but I was genuinely surprised that even Plantinga would be that soft intellectually to actually endorse the OA.

But it would appear that the reality is a little more subtle, as I observed in my previous post.

Religion is, after all, just another human institution, with all the inevitable failings...

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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mellestad
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Bloody_Cross

Bloody_Cross wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

This whole response amounts to little more than an appeal to authority. You are not addressing my arguments and objections. What else other than an appeal to authority do the references to Quine, Frege, and Russell amount to?  I should mention that I have long admired Russell, one of the few Philosophers I do really respect. The others I also have a lot of respect for are David Hume, and among contemporaries, Daniel Dennett.

The response wasn't an appeal to authority, it was an appeal to the fact that Bob Spence has no authority to make blanket statements regarding Modal Logic, philosophy, metaphysics, and the like.

Interestingly enough, Bertrand Russell has the following to say with regard to the ontological argument:  "Clearly an argument with such a distinguished history is to be treated with respect, whether valid or not (A History of Western Philosophy, p. 417)."  Your statements show no respect for Russell or what he accomplished.

I'm not really interested in discussing anything further with you anymore than I'd wish to discuss the stock market with a pre-schooler.  The level of discourse would be the same.

Have a lovely fucking night.

 

Lol.  Way to show what you're made of Bloody.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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Bloody_Cross

Bloody_Cross wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

This whole response amounts to little more than an appeal to authority. You are not addressing my arguments and objections. What else other than an appeal to authority do the references to Quine, Frege, and Russell amount to?  I should mention that I have long admired Russell, one of the few Philosophers I do really respect. The others I also have a lot of respect for are David Hume, and among contemporaries, Daniel Dennett.

The response wasn't an appeal to authority, it was an appeal to the fact that Bob Spence has no authority to make blanket statements regarding Modal Logic, philosophy, metaphysics, and the like.

Interestingly enough, Bertrand Russell has the following to say with regard to the ontological argument:  "Clearly an argument with such a distinguished history is to be treated with respect, whether valid or not (A History of Western Philosophy, p. 417)."  Your statements show no respect for Russell or what he accomplished.

I'm not really interested in discussing anything further with you anymore than I'd wish to discuss the stock market with a pre-schooler.  The level of discourse would be the same.

Have a lovely fucking night.

Yep. You really need to step up your game.

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


cj
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BobSpence1 wrote:EDIT: I am

BobSpence1 wrote:

EDIT: I am entertaining seriously the thought that this person is a Troll...

 

I think he either is or is related to Pissed_Ontologist and maybe also some other "philosophers" who have posted before.  Similarities include walls of quoted text that he clearly doesn't understand except for the "qed: god exists" part.

BTW, I admire both your and Ubuntu's posts and your dedication to refuting his shit.  I follow along as I like to learn - even the stuff I have little interest in being an expert at.  I took Philosophy 101 and was almost bored to tears through the whole thing.  The only interesting part was the logical problems.  "Two tribes live across the river from each other.  One tribe's members always tell the truth.  The other tribe's members always tell lies........"

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


BobSpence
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I will be curious to see if

I will be curious to see if he responds to the part of my next post where I point out that both Russell and Frege, who he also referred to, presumably as a master of logic, were both critics of the OA.

To quote-mine from Russell to claim I was disrespecting both Russell and the Argument, while neglecting to acknowledge that Russell was a critic of the Argument is dishonest in the extreme.

 

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


mellestad
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cj wrote:BobSpence1

cj wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

EDIT: I am entertaining seriously the thought that this person is a Troll...

 

I think he either is or is related to Pissed_Ontologist and maybe also some other "philosophers" who have posted before.  Similarities include walls of quoted text that he clearly doesn't understand except for the "qed: god exists" part.

BTW, I admire both your and Ubuntu's posts and your dedication to refuting his shit.  I follow along as I like to learn - even the stuff I have little interest in being an expert at.  I took Philosophy 101 and was almost bored to tears through the whole thing.  The only interesting part was the logical problems.  "Two tribes live across the river from each other.  One tribe's members always tell the truth.  The other tribe's members always tell lies........"

It seems that study of philosophy is good at making people pretentious and elitist though, although that doesn't likely transfer to many useful life skills.  Debate so often turns into this:

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


BobSpence
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cj wrote:BobSpence1

cj wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

EDIT: I am entertaining seriously the thought that this person is a Troll...

 

I think he either is or is related to Pissed_Ontologist and maybe also some other "philosophers" who have posted before.  Similarities include walls of quoted text that he clearly doesn't understand except for the "qed: god exists" part.

BTW, I admire both your and Ubuntu's posts and your dedication to refuting his shit.  I follow along as I like to learn - even the stuff I have little interest in being an expert at.  I took Philosophy 101 and was almost bored to tears through the whole thing.  The only interesting part was the logical problems.  "Two tribes live across the river from each other.  One tribe's members always tell the truth.  The other tribe's members always tell lies........"

Thank you for that, cj.

Expressions of appreciation from people I respect such as yourself really help me to keep going. I have been going through some major hassles in my 'real' life, and I felt for quite a while I could not afford to spend time here, but now that I have come back, I really appreciate the interactions I was missing, and the outlet it gives me.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


mellestad
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BobSpence1 wrote:cj

BobSpence1 wrote:

cj wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

EDIT: I am entertaining seriously the thought that this person is a Troll...

 

I think he either is or is related to Pissed_Ontologist and maybe also some other "philosophers" who have posted before.  Similarities include walls of quoted text that he clearly doesn't understand except for the "qed: god exists" part.

BTW, I admire both your and Ubuntu's posts and your dedication to refuting his shit.  I follow along as I like to learn - even the stuff I have little interest in being an expert at.  I took Philosophy 101 and was almost bored to tears through the whole thing.  The only interesting part was the logical problems.  "Two tribes live across the river from each other.  One tribe's members always tell the truth.  The other tribe's members always tell lies........"

Thank you for that, cj.

Expressions of appreciation from people I respect such as yourself really help me to keep going. I have been going through some major hassles in my 'real' life, and I felt for quite a while I could not afford to spend time here, but now that I have come back, I really appreciate the interactions I was missing, and the outlet it gives me.

You can't have problems in real life Bob, everyone knows you're perfect, spending all day reading about science and thinking profound thoughts then spending all night eating giant barbecued shrimp with Hugh Jackman and Cate Blanchett and a pristine white beach .

-----------------

I hope things turn out well for you.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


cj
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BobSpence1 wrote:Thank you

BobSpence1 wrote:

Thank you for that, cj.

Expressions of appreciation from people I respect such as yourself really help me to keep going. I have been going through some major hassles in my 'real' life, and I felt for quite a while I could not afford to spend time here, but now that I have come back, I really appreciate the interactions I was missing, and the outlet it gives me.

 

Thank you as well.  I know the feeling.  Hang in there.

Oh, and I really like the ability to start a post and then not post it.  Great therapy.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


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Just wondering what

Just wondering what Bloody_Cross' qualifications are for talking about the OA. Apparently you have to be a Frege or a Russell to understand the logic. So, BC, what degree do you have? What school did you go to? Who was you PhD degree advisor? What papers have you written?

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mellestad
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natural wrote:Just wondering

natural wrote:

Just wondering what Bloody_Cross' qualifications are for talking about the OA. Apparently you have to be a Frege or a Russell to understand the logic. So, BC, what degree do you have? What school did you go to? Who was you PhD degree advisor? What papers have you written?

No, no, you don't understand...you only need a PhD in philosophy if you *disagree* with Bloody_Cross.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


BobSpence
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mellestad wrote:natural

mellestad wrote:

natural wrote:

Just wondering what Bloody_Cross' qualifications are for talking about the OA. Apparently you have to be a Frege or a Russell to understand the logic. So, BC, what degree do you have? What school did you go to? Who was you PhD degree advisor? What papers have you written?

No, no, you don't understand...you only need a PhD in philosophy if you *disagree* with Bloody_Cross.

But even then, that seems to be insufficient to disprove the validity of the OA. What qualifications would be required for someone's disproof of the OA to be acceptable to Bloody_Cross??

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology