The Dallas Examined Life Philosophy Group Message Board › Why is there something instead of nothing?

Why is there something instead of nothing?

Metacrock
Metacrock
Dallas, TX
Post #: 23
I appreciate your viewpoint and accept the very real possibilty that you are right. Not just existence, but life also seems meaningless and without purpose. I think that one can be certain that existence is meaningless or certain that it's meaningful or uncertain as to the entire question of meanning itself, which I think is more in line with what I've been saying. It also could be that we are both right in certain ways. Existence may have an explanation in terms of its ground but not necessarily in terms of its end or telos. If there is real freedom and indeterminacy, then the world is genuinely open, God or no God, so that there may not be any telos inscribed into the nature of existence in either case. It's just that genuinely free agency is hard for me to account for in terms of physical reductionism.

It could be that words like 'meaning' and 'purpose' have to be applied analogically to God, though I realize that the 'analogical card' can be dodgy and not immune to criticism. It's just that if God is on the level of (necessary) being, that would be the broadest category possible (unless you include nothingness as well), so how could 'purpose' apply to being since purpose requires an instrumental ordering of means and ends?

I've thought of some serious flaws in my argument which makes me think that there's no real way to argue for this sort of thing other than to realize that both sides may ultimately be saying the same basic things under slightly different categories. Metaphysics seems to be like a wheel - the further out toward the edge of the wheel, the further apart the spokes ( or metaphysical positions) are but that the closer you approach the "center," (or the more fundamental the ideas), the closer together the spokes become, until they converge at the hub, which in traditional wooden wheels is nothing but empty space! Could it be that the void has a (sadistic?) sense of humor?biggrin


I am sorry, I don't mean to put anyone down for what they said, least of all you Jim. But there was a time in my youth when I thought that it was extremely profound to think like was meaningless. I was a huge Jean-Paul Sartre fan. But now I think that is so inane and unnecessary and so much the romantic wishful thinking of young people who have their own pleasure seeking which they willing to put ahead of grown up ideas, that Bob Dylan's song "All Along the Watch Tower" actually answers it. He's not referring to Jehovah's Witnesses either btw but to a passage in Iassia (Watchtower).

"There are many here among us
who think that life is but a Joke
you and I we've been through that
this is not our fate
let us not talk falsely now
the hour is getting late."

sorry I don't usually enter philosophical discussion with Bob Dylan quotes, but in this case....
Metacrock
Metacrock
Dallas, TX
Post #: 24
I'm reminded of an Einstein quote "The more I learn, the more I learn that I know nothing."

Perhaps the uncertainty principle also applies to metaphysics. In quantum mechanics, the more specific the information is that you try to determine and the smaller (and more precise) the measurement you're trying to gather, the more uncertain you are of any of it. Rather, the more random the results seem to be. After a certain point, you can only know so much. Anything beyond that point is obscured by the uncertainty principle. We're getting into some very specific, perhaps quantum aspects of metaphysics.

Uncertainty does not refer to morality. Trying to jump from one domain to another with no grounded support for the leap is just creating a category mistake. Meta ethical theory is a discipline of its own and you are just transgressing against another discipline without consulting the conversation in that discipline. I think of that as a philosophical problem.

Theory of realitivity doesn't apply to morality either or to nepotism.

As far as purpose/meaning/telos goes there seem to be two ways that something gains telos:
1) It is given telos (IE: I make/find a knife and give it the purpose "to cut").
2) It gives itself telos (IE: I choose as my purpose to gain and share knowledge).
Note: One may say that purpose can exist by nature but this is not purpose it is function.

But here you are just taking up with the pointless position the enlightenment placed in after it screwed us out of the valid understanding of telos. A telos can't be a man made mission that we adopt out of our cultural constructs. A Telos is the natural goal, the ground and end of a particular entity or state of being. The key's telos is formed by the way it's edges fit the tumbler and it's telos is to open the door because it was made to be a key.

You can't give yourself telos, notice Sartre never used that term of his existentialism. Because telos can only come when essence proceeds being.



From this, if existence has purpose then:
1. God must have given the universe its purpose. or
2. The universe itself is alive (which one could consider god), and it gave itself purpose by choice.

I can accept either conclusion, the latter would be a form a form of pantheism and a pantheistic god is still God. But that is not the same thing as saying that each individual can choose a telos as a matter of cultural construct or personal fulfillment.

Now that doesn't mean that we dont' chose fulfilling paths for ourselves. But in so doing we are seeking to Fulvia a telos that's already given us as existential beings who seek personal fulfillment through their individualism.We are not manufacturing a telos, when we seek self authentication, it's already built in.


Now, if the universe chose it's purpose, then this assumes both its existence and a point before which the universe had no purpose (prior to the choice). Such a "choice" would have to precede existence in order for this to satisfactorily qualify as god if god is to be defined as the eternal, necessary ground of being. This means that the living universe option isn't really an option. It may be true that the universe is god, but it cannot be god in totality. For instance, it may be possible that all of existence is located within the mind of god, as has been proposed before. However, god still created this universe with purpose within his mind, which means that it is option 1, not option 2.

that's a good point, that's why I'm not a pantheist.

essence can precede being, not in the sense of preceding the ground of being (God) but the being of the individual. Because everything is in the mind of God. Christian existentialists don't make a big deal out of that being proceeding essence jazz. They take off on the individualism route and don't really define existentialism the way Sartre did (quoting Copleston).

To further complicate the issue, consider the purpose of god. God was not created, and so he MUST choose his own purpose. Essentially, that which gives meaning to existence is, itself, inherently meaningless. The ground of being may serve, as its function, as that which imparts telos to existence, however, this ground itself cannot have an intrinsic telos of its own. If one says that the purpose of the ground of being is to serve as the reason for existence, this implies a "purpose giver" that lies beyond even the ground of being. Such an argument could continue ad infinitum.


There are three problems with this thinking:

(1) unfounded assertion underlying premise that says God has no built in purpose, Assertion not in evidence.

(2) God's own telos would not need to be assigned by a higher God it's just always already the result of the divine aspect as being itself. It's not that there was a time before God has a telos and he had to think one up, here Derrida's phrase \always already applies perfectly. God's telos is always already forever there.

(3) God's telos is built in since due to the synonymy of being with love. The connection has been observed by thinkers such as Tillich and Hans Urs Von Balthasar. Love and being intersect and while they seem very different they actually involve the same space metaphysically. What I mean by that is to be is to love; both are giving, both are the most irreducible things we can experience. Of cousre by "love" I don't mean gaga butterflies in the stomach wanting to have sex after the dispensing of chocolate I mean agaope the will to the good of the other. Both being and love stem from the say same impulse to bestow themselves upon the other.

That also gives a basic built in purpose that is connected to God's intrinsic nature as being itself.


This problem does not occur in the following situations:
1. The ground of being has no purpose, only a function.
2. The ground of being had no purpose, but chose a purpose.

It can't choose a purpose. If it did that would not be a telos. Moreover,the 1 is a mistake. GOB has purpose, to be, to love, to bestow itself upon others.



Metacrock
Metacrock
Dallas, TX
Post #: 25
These two stances, however, are not without their own perils. The first is that it is unclear as to how a function can give rise to a purpose. According to Kant, reason is necessary in order to actually make a choice, otherwise one is acting merely as a slave to ones appetite.

I certainly disagree with that. To fufil a function is to fulfill a purpose. The only way to have function is to have purpose. We tend to think in terms of evolution of biology. So animals evolve out of random chance they are not fitting a pattern. We gain opposable thumbs, not because they are part of a pre thought out plan but because our ancestors adapt. That's the way we learn to think of it in modern times. But that's really the wrong way to think about "function." Function is a "function" of design. "what is the function of this machine?" "what is the function of the part?" We adapt the language of design to science and bestow a quasi personality upon it that doesn't need to be there. I noticed Professor Julius Sumner Miller used to always mention laws of physics as though objects want to do things. "nature wants to fill a vacuum" he would say. That's becuase that's the way Aristotelians spoke and it stuck in the early days of modern science.

What we are calling "function" in relation to adaptation and random chance is not really function. At least not in the sense of a purpose. So random adaptations are not telos.

Basically, without reason, one acts out of function.

Only if I'm wrong about the use of the term.



However, what constitutes a choice made by reason and a "choice" made my impulse/appetite/function is a bit fuzzy as well as seeming more than a little arbitrary.

I don't see that. They seem distinctly different to me.


In the second option, it is not readily apparent how any choice can be made in the absence of all... especially when there would theoretically be an infinite number of choices available. Part of me envisions a scene where god ponders "to be or not to be? ... to be!" followed by the big bang. The only problem with that is that god would have no choice as to whether or not he exists. If he is capable of making the choice, then he must exist in order to make it. It's a nice thought though.

dealt with above.

Another interesting point to make would be that in order to make such a choice, god must posses both a mind and a capacity for reason. This is not necessarily the case if god must only give purpose merely by his function. I think the later is supported by at least Christian theology. God tends to act "by his nature" as opposed to actually making choices. This, of course, is at odds with biblical passages which suggest that God does make choices... but that's an entirely different argument which is beyond the scope of this discussion.

that assumes God's telos is not always already. It's assertion not in evidence that God acts or makes choices out of instinct rather than reason, but that's not necessary in this case because he doesn't have to choose a telos.

It seems as if, just as it was with the ground of being, that the "ground of meaning" may have similar problems. Considering the seemingly apparent meaningless existence of even god, I think it tilts the scales in the favor of meaningless existence.


that's gibberish. you can't speak of "meaningless existence of God" that's like square circle, Holy whore, saintly sinner, good bad, up down those contradictions in terms. God si the ground of being, thus God's character is the basis of all meaning, whatever that may turn out to be.

But you are still basing that upon what I think is a fallacy, that God has to chose a meaning.

Granted, this all hinges on the origins of telos as I've laid them out. Perhaps other methods of attributing purpose could be possible which could derail my argument (which would not surprise me in the least).

Have you read After Virtue by Alisdare McIntyre?
Nathaniel
user 10963465
Group Organizer
Mesquite, TX
Post #: 33
Metacrock, just follow me with this line of thought.

There exists a sharp rock. Perhaps it was made this way simply by natural means, water froze in a crack, or a rock slide caused it to break off. In any case, it has no creator, the rock simply happened to become a sharp fragment at some point. One possible function of this rock is that it could be used as a cutting tool. Perhaps someone finds it, notices this possible function, and then decides to use the rock as such. Is the purpose/telos of this sharp rock to cut?

My argument is that the rock does not have a purpose. It has a possible function. That function isn't realized until it is used for that function, and it does not have a purpose until it is given purpose by a conscious and rational mind. It is my honest belief that to suggest that the rock had a purpose prior to being used to cut, or prior to even being made sharp is just plain silly. To say "This mountain here, with it's many rocks, has included in its purpose that at least one of the rocks thereof become sharp so that I may use this sharp rock as a cutting tool" is more than a bit self-centered, it's just plain nuts.

Now, suppose there is a person who can sing better than anyone else on the planet. Aristotle would claim that this person, because of their ability, is supposed to be a singer. The purpose of this person is to sing. After all, why would a person be able to sing so well if not for the purpose of being a singer? You say that we don't really chose our own ends, we simply discover them. This smacks of predetermination which I believe to undermine reason. Perhaps god bestowed this purpose upon the singer prior to their existence. But if god is the source of purpose, then what gave purpose to god?

Telos is defined as the end term of a goal-directed process. It is the end(s) that a process was/is aimed it. Is it not possible that a process can adopt a new end? or that a function of the process is to choose an end? Biologically speaking, the end that we are intended to pursue is purely reproductive. However, there are many more ends which I can adopt and choose as my purpose in life, even to the exclusion of reproduction. What is reason if it is not the capacity to choose our own ends separate and free from instinct/appetite?

When I was talking about the fuzzy line between reason and function/instinct/appetite I was mostly referring to the fact that our capacity for reason is the product of the way our biology functions. Reason is a function. Its just as much a process as any other process such as instinct or appetite.

Now, when something is created by something which possesses a rational mind, they may choose the telos of the thing before the creation. The key, for instance, must have the purpose of unlocking a lock prior to its being made to do so. The purpose is not endowed by the form of the key, it is endowed by the one who makes the key. Also, just because the purpose of the key is to unlock a lock does not mean that it will ever do so, or that its purpose couldn't also become "to scratch off a lottery ticket".

In all the examples I've given above, god can be most like the sharp rock, the singer or the key. Obviously, he can't be like the key because he wasn't created. If he is like the sharp rock or the singer, then his existence is without meaning/purpose "until" one is chosen for/by him. If he does not possess a rational mind then he cannot make a choice and therefore only would have function. Now, this choice can exist eternally since it must "predate" time. But pushing the choice back to infinity does not resolve the problem just as pushing back the question of "why is there something instead of nothing" to infinity does not resolve that problem. It still leaves god intrinsically meaningless, but free to choose a meaning/purpose on his own.

I'm going to hold firm to the position that purpose/meaning can only be applied by reason. I do not believe that a mere function is sufficient to answer the question of "why?" it merely answers "how?" Furthermore, if telos must precede essence, how does this work for the sharp rock? I suppose once you choose to use the rock as a knife, it becomes a stone knife and the telos of "to cut" preceded its existence as a stone knife... however, this is merely a change of name/definition, not of actual form (further pushing form away as the source of purpose). I'm also not sure why this precedence doesn't apply to god. If telos MUST precede essence, then god's telos must precede his essence as well. Saying that it was always/eternally so only pushing back the problem to infinity, it does not resolve it. It is, in effect, eternally evasive.

I also realize that saying god's existence is meaningless equates to gibberish, that's kind of the point of the argument. Obviously, I'm proposing the meaningless universe and stating the reasons why I believe this must be the case. Because meaninglessness is a negative state, I must essentially show why there cannot be a meaning/purpose to existence. Rather, I am proposing a series of problems with the meaningful universe and suggesting that the best resolution for these problems is that there is no meaning/purpose to existence. It's a bleak and depressing concept for most, and a liberating concept for some.

I haven't read After Virtue, but it seems interesting. After reading some reviews of it, I'm not sure I can agree with the idea of a return to Aristotelian ethics. Obviously, I have some major qualms with Aristotle's claims about purpose. Not surprisingly, there have been quite a number of philosophers after him which also disagreed with many of his claims. While what he said is useful and interesting, I think throwing out the philosophies that came about during the enlightenment is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. While the discussion of purpose therein may be relevant, I think straying into ethics would take this rather off topic (even tough the ultimate telos proposed by Aristotle was "the good", which necessarily includes ethics).
Jim B.
user 4260314
Arlington, TX
Post #: 77
I think quantum mechanics and metaphysics are different kinds of animals. Physicalist-type explanations may not be the only kinds. The explanatory monism/explanatory pluralism distinction I think applies to this and much else that you've written.

You may be getting hung up on trying to apply literal interpretations of words/concepts to God, as I've alluded to before. That's why I've maintained that apprehension/understanding of God most likely hinges on experiential and not propositional knowledge. It's not that we can know nothing about God propositionally but such knowledge is limited, just as any kind of experiential knowledge approached propositionally is limited. Similarly, I believe that essential aspects of consciousness and qualia are necessarily left out of any propositional account. The limited nature of this sort of knowledge is why nothing more than a rational warrant argument can apply to it; a rational warrant gets us over the threshold of reasonableness (at most) but not over the threshold of compelling proof.

Wittgenstein wrote that when words are used to apply to contexts that lie beyond the range of the criteria that give the words their meaning, then those words begin to slip free from their literal meaning. This limit to meaning is the reason for an analogical understanding of God's nature and activity. This limit is also the reason for the apophatic approach to understanding divinity, an approach which has been active in one form or another in various religious traditions for millennia.

Analogy applies to 'purpose' and 'meaning' when those words refer to God and existence in the same way that it applies to 'creation'. When I 'create' a painting, I do not and cannot create vision or optics, color or color space, line or form or the concepts that inform the painting or the conventions of painting itself, or the conventions of representation, etc., (even though I may depart from or play off of these conventions). So 'creation' can only be literally understood in media res, in the midst of things already given, not creation from nothing.

When we say that the purpose of a knife is to cut, this fact only has meaning set against a world of things that do not cut and other things that are to be, or may be, cut. Purpose applied to the whole runs into the same problems or limits that 'creation' as applied to the whole runs up against. I may venture a guess that the 'purpose' of existence, or one purpose, is to become conscious of and to know itself, but such a guess has to be bracketed off as just that, a guess, in the same way that guessing as to the details of efficient causation engaged in by God to create the world has to be bracketed off as analogy.

So why the concern over whether existence or its ground is purposeless? Or whether the ground of existence does not itself exist? If existence is open to explore its potentialities, then that would in a sense be its purpose, which in a way would transcend the meaning of 'purpose' as normally understood. 'Purpose' or 'meaning' applied to existence can only be analogical when compared to the meaning of the word 'purpose' as applied to a knife. In a similar sense, existence or its ground would not necessarily fall short of purpose but may exceed it, transcending the criteria that give the word its meaning. Not everything about God is propositionally understood, just as not everything about most things we know of is fully understood in this way (especially theoretical constructs), including even things about ourselves, such as our minds and our actions. But if there is a preponderance of reasons for positing God as an explanation for the broadest possible band of human experience, including experiential knowledge, then that lack of complete propositional understanding is certainly not unique to God nor in itself a crucial or even interesting fact.
Jim B.
user 4260314
Arlington, TX
Post #: 78
To Metacrock - Okay, I'll bite. What is the purpose or meaning of existence? Wouldn't your answer have to be a tenet of faith? And to know God's purpose for our lives would have to be analogical knowledge, wouldn't it? That sort of 'agnosticism' was what I was referring to when I wrote that life/existence is meaningless, meaningless in terms of its end, not its ground.

To Nathaniel - Your entire argument is based on category mistakes. You're also guilty of the fallacy of composition in reverse. And how is it that biology has an end or telos while none of the rest of nature does? Are you a strong emergentist? How could you be if you're a physical reductionist?
Metacrock
Metacrock
Dallas, TX
Post #: 26
Metacrock, just follow me with this line of thought.

There exists a sharp rock. Perhaps it was made this way simply by natural means, water froze in a crack, or a rock slide caused it to break off. In any case, it has no creator, the rock simply happened to become a sharp fragment at some point. One possible function of this rock is that it could be used as a cutting tool. Perhaps someone finds it, notices this possible function, and then decides to use the rock as such. Is the purpose/telos of this sharp rock to cut?

No.

My argument is that the rock does not have a purpose. It has a possible function. That function isn't realized until it is used for that function, and it does not have a purpose until it is given purpose by a conscious and rational mind.

I understand what you are saying. I'm saying the term "function" is even too purposeful to use in that way. Function implies a level of planing. I don't mean to be pedantic and maybe I am being so, but you could say it's "utilitarian function within my design for it" but even at that your dealing with an imposed agenda some mind designed for the rock, even though it didn't make the rock. But in speaking of the origin of the universe for atheists there can be no imposed agenda. It can't be even adopted as an adopted functionary, it simple has no function. It could have a use within the adaptation scheme of some organism but it has no function.




It is my honest belief that to suggest that the rock had a purpose prior to being used to cut, or prior to even being made sharp is just plain silly. To say "This mountain here, with it's many rocks, has included in its purpose that at least one of the rocks thereof become sharp so that I may use this sharp rock as a cutting tool" is more than a bit self-centered, it's just plain nuts.

we don't have to think that God created weathering so that cave men would have sharp rocks to cut their meat with. No view of creation or creatorship has to get that detailed as to think that every single item was deigned with a specific purpose. But everything is contingent and it does fit the guidelines in general of God's creative scheme, which is to allow an evolutionary process to shape life.

Now, suppose there is a person who can sing better than anyone else on the planet. Aristotle would claim that this person, because of their ability, is supposed to be a singer. The purpose of this person is to sing. After all, why would a person be able to sing so well if not for the purpose of being a singer? You say that we don't really chose our own ends, we simply discover them. This smacks of predetermination which I believe to undermine reason. Perhaps god bestowed this purpose upon the singer prior to their existence. But if god is the source of purpose, then what gave purpose to god?

But ends can be more general than that. Nor do these ends have to be designed by God in terms of occupations. that's like the cavemen cutting their food. One's telos in terms of relationship to God is going to be along moral/spiritual lines, not occupational. That's all evolutionary fall out.



Telos is defined as the end term of a goal-directed process.

the goal of a goal directed process does not have to specifically account for every aspect of ever entity that exists. It's a general guideline for the direction of one's life, not a guide for occupations. Although one might feel that great talent is bestowed with purpose. I like to think that's evolutionary fallout but for those who get it it's a possibility to serve God which is part of the general human telos.



It is the end(s) that a process was/is aimed it. Is it not possible that a process can adopt a new end? or that a function of the process is to choose an end? Biologically speaking, the end that we are intended to pursue is purely reproductive. However, there are many more ends which I can adopt and choose as my purpose in life, even to the exclusion of reproduction. What is reason if it is not the capacity to choose our own ends separate and free from instinct/appetite?


That's as a species. When we consider individuality it's more open ended. We can choose our own ends in terms of occupation, where we live, who we hang out with, whom we marry (or not) but all of that is just the background to our telos as souls, as creatures of God.We have levels on the the highest level where we consider the overall nature of our lives in relation to God that is what the metaphor of the soul is about. That's not determined by incidents and accidents (where you live, where you work ect). that's about your relationship with God.

We were created to seek a relationship with God and through that search develop the capacity to willingly choose the good. The things you are talking about don't come into a moral choice although they could be used to glorify God if one so chooses.


When I was talking about the fuzzy line between reason and function/instinct/appetite I was mostly referring to the fact that our capacity for reason is the product of the way our biology functions. Reason is a function. Its just as much a process as any other process such as instinct or appetite.

OK I'll take a looser view of the term "function." But I don't agree that reason is not part of the telos.

Now, when something is created by something which possesses a rational mind, they may choose the telos of the thing before the creation. The key, for instance, must have the purpose of unlocking a lock prior to its being made to do so. The purpose is not endowed by the form of the key, it is endowed by the one who makes the key.

I disagree. Purpose determines the form of the key and the form determines if it does it its purpose. The form has to be suited to the purpose or it wont work. You are assuming form is random.




Also, just because the purpose of the key is to unlock a lock does not mean that it will ever do so, or that its purpose couldn't also become "to scratch off a lottery ticket".


It also strikes me that your view of God assumes he's a big man in the sky. I don't think God makes decisions in the way we do. I don't think he said "I'll make monkeys becuase humans will need to laugh." He's like the laws of physics more than a giant cosmic handy man. For that reason I think of telos as general and on the level of relationship to God rather than specifics of the incidents and accidents.

In all the examples I've given above, god can be most like the sharp rock, the singer or the key. Obviously, he can't be like the key because he wasn't created. If he is like the sharp rock or the singer, then his existence is without meaning/purpose "until" one is chosen for/by him.

Sharp rock is not analogous becuase God as the ground of being must be eternal and thus can't evolve is not a product of weathering. In a sense the rock has a creator although an impersonal one, ti has forces of weathering that shape it. God is not shaped by anything.





Metacrock
Metacrock
Dallas, TX
Post #: 27
If he does not possess a rational mind then he cannot make a choice and therefore only would have function.

that's definitely thinking anthropomorphically. We can't compare our thought processes to God's so we don't know what God's reasoning process would be like. We can't speculate on that it's totally beyond our understanding. He doesn't posses a mind of "HUMAN REASON" that is not to say he doesn't possess reason of any kind.



Now, this choice can exist eternally since it must "predate" time. But pushing the choice back to infinity does not resolve the problem just as pushing back the question of "why is there something instead of nothing" to infinity does not resolve that problem. It still leaves god intrinsically meaningless, but free to choose a meaning/purpose on his own.

You are still assuming God has to choose a telos and that there's time before God has a telos. God can't be eternal and not have a telos and then choose one. That's as much a contradiction as saying that God is eternal and began to exist at a point in time.



I'm going to hold firm to the position that purpose/meaning can only be applied by reason. I do not believe that a mere function is sufficient to answer the question of "why?"

It seems to me you have ignored everything I said and that you are distorting the function argument. We have to be careful about speaking of God in terms of function. Functional things are things not designers. You could say designer has a function of designing but that's not really same kind of function.


Speaking of purpose I don't think you have illustrated any reason why God can't have an eternal purpose? Your only example was non analogous because compared God to a rock that been weathered.



it merely answers "how?" Furthermore, if telos must precede essence, how does this work for the sharp rock? I suppose once you choose to use the rock as a knife, it becomes a stone knife and the telos of "to cut" preceded its existence as a stone knife... however, this is merely a change of name/definition, not of actual form (further pushing form away as the source of purpose). I'm also not sure why this precedence doesn't apply to god. If telos MUST precede essence, then god's telos must precede his essence as well. Saying that it was always/eternally so only pushing back the problem to infinity, it does not resolve it. It is, in effect, eternally evasive.


that is assuming God is a big man in the sky. I'm not interested in thinking of God in those terms god does not have to name everything he's going to create. he could think it through and know it's going to exist and be made by man but he not have to plan every act of human conspicuousness in order to way that human telos existed in advance. Things like sharp rocks and knives are what I'm calling "evolutionary fallout." The only thing God has to plan per se is the basic concept of evolution and it's purpose (in Theistic terms it has a purpose not in scientific terms) to produce free moral agents who can willingly choose the good. I refuse to believe that God gave a rat's hind quarters weather those agents were professional singers or had sharp knives or not.

I also realize that saying god's existence is meaningless equates to gibberish, that's kind of the point of the argument. Obviously, I'm proposing the meaningless universe and stating the reasons why I believe this must be the case.

I didn't mean to insult you by saying "gibberish." Nor do I mean to insult you by what I'm about to say; you are begging the question.

You can't use your predilection for belief about the meaningless nature of life to prove that the world doesn't need God or to prove the meaningless nature of life. That has to be a background assumption that is pre given on your part, it's not something that can be proved or disproved.

The possibility of God also destroys the possibility of a meaningless universe, it would be begging the question to use a meaningless universe to argue against the possibility of God. In Sartre's philosophy the meaningless nature of life was a result of the lack of God's existence, not not a proof of the non existence of God. He never used it as a proof only as a consequence of his disbelieve which he navigated on other currents.





Because meaninglessness is a negative state, I must essentially show why there cannot be a meaning/purpose to existence. Rather, I am proposing a series of problems with the meaningful universe and suggesting that the best resolution for these problems is that there is no meaning/purpose to existence. It's a bleak and depressing concept for most, and a liberating concept for some.


but still begging the question. There's no way your sense of meaninglessness can circumvent my sense of meaning. All of that has to be the result of a epiphany or a given it can't be a proof or a premise fr disproof of someone's world view.

I haven't read After Virtue, but it seems interesting. After reading some reviews of it, I'm not sure I can agree with the idea of a return to Aristotelian ethics. Obviously, I have some major qualms with Aristotle's claims about purpose.


You don't have to agree Aristotelian ethics to agree with McIntyre. It's also up grabs what he proved. He was a Reagan guy and his point in writing to help out with the groundswell of conservative think tank guys like the Closing of the America Mind guy and Kufuyama trying to capture the cultural elite for the right. I don't' approve of that at all. that's totally opposed to my politics. I do think McIntyre gives good insights into the nature of telos and I think he shows what went wrong with the enlightenment.

For some bizarre reason liberals loved his books and were totally confused about what he was trying to do. They too it as a proof of relative nature of ethics. He added a addendum about how he had been misunderstood. I think he's right about ethics, at least in terms what went wrong in the enlightenment, but i' not exactly an Aristotelian.



Not surprisingly, there have been quite a number of philosophers after him which also disagreed with many of his claims. While what he said is useful and interesting, I think throwing out the philosophies that came about during the enlightenment is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. While the discussion of purpose therein may be relevant, I think straying into ethics would take this rather off topic (even tough the ultimate telos proposed by Aristotle was "the good", which necessarily includes ethics).


There aren't many ethicists today who back enlightenment ethical thinking. Most modern ethcists are opposed to consequential ethics.

I proposed reading it because of what he says about telos. Another good one would Sources of the self by Charles Taylor.
Metacrock
Metacrock
Dallas, TX
Post #: 28
To Metacrock - Okay, I'll bite. What is the purpose or meaning of existence? Wouldn't your answer have to be a tenet of faith? And to know God's purpose for our lives would have to be analogical knowledge, wouldn't it? That sort of 'agnosticism' was what I was referring to when I wrote that life/existence is meaningless, meaningless in terms of its end, not its ground.[/qutoe]

Doh!

answer would be faith, or course. It's still what I believe about my life.

purpose would be analogical: but we can have special revelation, deductive reasoning and intuitive sense based upon mystical experience.

analogical understanding is a given of the whole corporeal existence senerio. That's what we live with as mortals it's the nature of the game.



To Nathaniel - Your entire argument is based on category mistakes. You're also guilty of the fallacy of composition in reverse. And how is it that biology has an end or telos while none of the rest of nature does? Are you a strong emergentist? How could you be if you're a physical reductionist?

wow, reverse fallacy of comp! how does that work?

don't forget begging the question.
Jim B.
user 4260314
Arlington, TX
Post #: 79
Meta, I think you're confusing arguing from analogy, i.e. analogy being the content of your argument, with arguing that analogy is the case. Not every aspect of our existence is equally legitimate for being used in an argument. See the distinction between different kinds of knowledge I wrote about previously.

Reverse fallacy of comp: Every individual thing is caused so the whole is caused. No individual thing has meaning so the whole cannot have meaning. You get the picture.
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