Ignosticism and Positive Ontology

magilum
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Ignosticism and Positive Ontology

I have no formal background in logic or philosophy, so excuse my rambling and please correct me if I'm wrong. I'm trying to get a handle on the ignostic position. I'll go through what I have so far.
1. "To exist is to exist as something." - Todangst2. To exist as something, something must have properties that differentiate it from nothing.3. "God," as most people describe it, is defined only by what it is not: not natural/supernatural.4. Anything observable would be called natural.5. "God" isn't observable, and to say it is supernatural is admitting the same.6. Supernatural things don't exist, by definition.


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Correct. I think we all

Correct. I think we all regard the term as quite meaningless. Ontology speaks to meaning and conceptual coherency to say that something is. The notion of "supernatural" is broken in this regard, because it makes no sense. Obviously, before attempting to provide "evidence" of something, one must define precisely what they are providing evidence of, so it is conjecture-level. The concept cannot even get to the stage where we discuss "evidence" of it. Since it is a broken and meaningless concept, it shoud come as no suprise, really, that all  a posteriori arguments for this philosophical incoherency some people call "God" are at best ad ignoratium and at worst, falsehoods.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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magilum wrote: I have no

magilum wrote:
I have no formal background in logic or philosophy, so excuse my rambling and please correct me if I'm wrong. I'm trying to get a handle on the ignostic position. I'll go through what I have so far.
1. "To exist is to exist as something." - Todangst2. To exist as something, something must have properties that differentiate it from nothing.3. "God," as most people describe it, is defined only by what it is not: not natural/supernatural.4. Anything observable would be called natural.5. "God" isn't observable, and to say it is supernatural is admitting the same.6. Supernatural things don't exist, by definition.

Yes, but this isn't a problem for a negative theologian, someone following Heidegger, etc., who accepts the 'supernatural' as the grounds for Being, and thus, not to be found in any particular existent.

In other words, it's only a problem for positive theologians.

By the way, the phrase 'postive ontology' is as redundant as wet water. 

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magilum
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Thanks guys. Looks like I

Thanks guys. Looks like I have some reading to do. 


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Congratulations on grasping

Congratulations on grasping and encapsulating the Ignostic viewpoint, Magilium.  While you read further, bear in mind that theological noncognitivism is just one of many competing discourses about the terms "God" and "existence."  It's not necessarily the most widespread or necessarily the most effective at persuading your audience--if that is your goal.

As a freethinker and general-purpose iconoclast, my main criticism of positivist systems of meaning in general is that they discourage exploration of certain kinds of statements by labeling those statements automatically "meaningless" and therefore irrelevant.   Many broader philosophical views from outside the positivist circles suggest that when people make a statement such as "God exists," they mean something by that statement. It's one thing to bear in mind the noncognitivist stance while you engage with that statement, and it's quite another thing to bury your intellectual head in the sand and insist that no discussion can take place because the statement is incoherent.

 

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Hi Textom. Thanks for the

Hi Textom. Thanks for the input. No, I wouldn't imagine calling the question incoherent would spur a healthy discussion with a true believer. I've been casually researching the ignostic view since it was brought up by Skeptic Grigsy on this forum. I've never been a believer of any stripe. I cautiously called myself an agnostic, then agnostic/weak atheist. In ignosticism, I think I'm getting closer to a true description of my instinct toward the deity question: that it's a "strange, questionable question," as Nietzsche would say.


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Yeah, even though I

Yeah, even though I personally am not a huge fan, I observe that many people--smart and rational people--are really into the ignostic arguments.  They remain popular, and positivism in general has stuck around for a long time.  Mach and Wittgenstein are not inconsequential names.  I think it must be a matter of taste.

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Although you should know

Although you should know that Wittgenstein's more famous for his later work that explicitly rejected positivism. Have you looked into his Philosophical Investigations?
I read the first couple of chapters of that Post Modernist book you recommended and it said itself that the reason why philosophers snubbed Derrida's philosophy was because more or less all of his insights had been covered by Wittgenstein's work in the Philosophical Investigations 25 years earlier - only Wittgenstein had done it much better.
(Although I get the feeling that the writer of the book was a philosopher himself so it probably wasn't without bias! Laughing out loud)

Back on topic, the argument looks more or less right to me.
The next step, (if you wanted to take it further) might be to look into how you would justify those premises.
For instance, for something to exist it has to exist as something could be justified by pointing out that for you to say "x exists" then you need to know what an 'x' is (i.e. give it identity) before you can even talk about existence/non-existence.
It was certainly the ignostic style argument that turned me from being an agnostic into an atheist.


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Strafio wrote: Although you

Strafio wrote:
Although you should know that Wittgenstein's more famous for his later work that explicitly rejected positivism. Have you looked into his Philosophical Investigations? I read the first couple of chapters of that Post Modernist book you recommended and it said itself that the reason why philosophers snubbed Derrida's philosophy was because more or less all of his insights had been covered by Wittgenstein's work in the Philosophical Investigations 25 years earlier - only Wittgenstein had done it much better.

I read a couple of summaries of Philosophical Investigations and I'm inclined to agree.  I can see the basic concepts of semiology and speech act theory just from a cursory glance.  If I'm understanding it correctly, the criticisms of positivism I've been trying to articulate are here already.  I'll have to take a closer look. 

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


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Cool stuff. Let me know how

Cool stuff. Let me know how you get on.
I'm also very anti-positivism/scientism.
There seems to be two equivalent errors regarding positivistic language.
There's those who make scientific conclusions inferred from non-scientific premises. (i.e. trying to use truths from a different discourse to infer a conclusion in scientific discourse, which can only be fallicious)
And then there's those who avoid this error by denying alternative discourses and start trying to treat every question like a scientific question and miss so many points that way - making a fresh error in the process.


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I'm in the middle of a few

I'm in the middle of a few books right now, and my wish list is unruly already. Could you guys do me a favor and point me toward examples of the alternatives to positivism you're talking about, so I can at least wet my beak in the matter?

Sorry, I'm being a dilettante, I know.


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The book recommendation was

The book recommendation was for Textom.
Wittgenstein is hard to understand at the best of times and I'm not sure you'd want to dive in head first, especially if as you say you do not have a background in Philosophy. (To understand Wittgenstein it's quite important to understand the positions he was arguing against! Smiling)

What 'anti-positivism' does it recognise that we use language in a lot of ways. The language of positivists talks about literal existence, so you could say they use our standard descriptive language. They've mastered the rules of this language and can tell when something fits and when something doesn't, and sure enough, God cannot have 'literal existence' has the term God isn't defined in this descriptive language.

What people find annoying about positivists is that their mastery of descriptive language comes with a closed-mindedness towards other forms of language. They insist that every proposition be treated as a description, when in reality our language can have various purposes. There can be sentences that have a purpose in what they are used for, but the positivist will dismiss them because they aren't descriptive sentences.

The other error the positivist makes is to take a non-descriptive concept and try and cram it into in descriptive language, thereby changing it. People don't naturally see mental concepts or mathematical concepts as 'things' that 'exist' but those too closely aquainted with the positivist language might assume that all concepts must (as they treat all propositions as descriptive) so will change these concepts from how they really are in order to suit their pre-supposition that the language must be descriptive.