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Sience and Pilosophy
Posted: 20 July 2006 12:37 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Do you think epistemology (in particular empiricism) come to dominate all our Philosophical thought and subjugated the other fields, effectively closing the door on philosophical exploration outside of empiricism?

If so is that good?

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Posted: 20 July 2006 12:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Sience and Pilosophy

Do you think epistemology (in particular empiricism ) come to dominate all our Philosophical thought and subjugated the other fields, effectively closing the door on philosophical exploration outside of empiricism?

If so is that good?

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Posted: 27 October 2006 05:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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And Berkely was such an empricist that he was a metaphysical idealist. McTaggart was an athiestic idealist. I say that shows one can be a naturalist without being a materialist. Doug, I think that Richard Dawkins uses empiricism to quite reject religion scientifically. Victor Stenger will do so in one of his two new books out in January. That should spark a debate! :!:  :arrow:

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Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism.He might be wrong!His cognitive defects might impact his posting. Logic is the bane of theists.‘Religion is mythinformation.“Reason saves, not that fanatic Galilean!
  ’ Life is its own validation and reward and ultimate purpose.”

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Posted: 27 October 2006 05:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Well, historically, empiricists have tended to be religious skeptics, certainly from Hume on. Part of the reason for the Vienna Circle’s interest in phenomenalism was a wish, basically, to demonstrate that religious talk was meaningless.

As a matter of fact, this sort of argument really proves too much ... it’s not necessary to say that all religious talk is meaningless in order to disagree with it. It’s enough to say it’s false.

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Posted: 27 October 2006 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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God?

Doug, agreed! However, seeing as the god notion is meaningless, I am ignostic. I find it so ,because there is nothing to show that it is meaningful.Parson noteS :“Occult powers wielded by a transcendent being in an inscrutable way for unfathomable purposes just do not seem to be the basis for any sort of a good explanation.Theistic’explanations’ therefore only seem to serve the purpose of hiding behind a theological fig leaf.” smile  :idea:  :arrow:

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Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism.He might be wrong!His cognitive defects might impact his posting. Logic is the bane of theists.‘Religion is mythinformation.“Reason saves, not that fanatic Galilean!
  ’ Life is its own validation and reward and ultimate purpose.”

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Posted: 28 October 2006 03:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Well, again, I don’t think that (for example) the theological notion of god is meaningless. It isn’t just jibber-jabber. We understand all the words that go into the concept: all-powerful (able to do anything he wants), all-knowing, perfectly good (never does anything evil), everlasting (never dies), created the universe.

This is all meaningful talk. It’s just that nothing instantiates all these properties.

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Posted: 28 October 2006 04:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Doug, nothing does alright and that is why I find the term meaningless! I am playing with words perhaps.! Your point is so well taken that I hope you will adumbrate it .How can theists show limited or unlimited attributes for thier God?How do they claim all those attributes . I also hope Free Inquiry takes to heart the suggestion of advertising this forum. And I hope that Kurtz would put in an appearance here! I wish Dawkins could make comments here as he will at his own site on reviews of his new book. All those shallow reviews!

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Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism.He might be wrong!His cognitive defects might impact his posting. Logic is the bane of theists.‘Religion is mythinformation.“Reason saves, not that fanatic Galilean!
  ’ Life is its own validation and reward and ultimate purpose.”

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Posted: 28 October 2006 07:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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[quote author=“skeptic griggsy naturalis”]Doug, nothing does alright and that is why I find the term meaningless! I am playing with words perhaps.! Your point is so well taken that I hope you will adumbrate it .How can theists show limited or unlimited attributes for thier God?How do they claim all those attributes .

I’m not sure what you’re asking the theist here ... all I want to say is that there is a difference between a concept, word, phrase or sentence being meaningless and it being empty or false.

So if I said “I believe in the xulrabor” and then only said “The xulrabor is ineffable”, you would have every right to say that what I said was essentially meaningless. There is no concept there, and no real meaning to the word ‘xulrabor’.

But if I say “I believe in an all powerful, etc., being”, that does have a meaning, we understand the words involved, we can make some (at least preliminary) sense of it. We can even go about constructing arguments to show it does or doesn’t exist.

We agree that the theist can’t show that such a being exists. But that’s different from there being no concept there ... there is a concept, and it’s by looking at the concept that we can tell it almost certainly doesn’t exist.

Again, think of unicorns or dragons. These aren’t meaningless, they are just not instantiated.

[quote author=“skeptic griggsy naturalis”] I also hope Free Inquiry takes to heart the suggestion of advertising this forum. And I hope that Kurtz would put in an appearance here! I wish Dawkins could make comments here as he will at his own site on reviews of his new book. All those shallow reviews!

I expect Dawkins will be extremely busy with his own work and website, although of course it would be nice to have him over anytime.  :wink: Paul Kurtz would be great too ...

Re. reviews of these books, I have been quite dismayed at how credulous even the more intelligent press is for religious nonsense, and how unwilling they are even to review fairly a book by someone who takes a critical view. About the only good review I’ve seen thus far for Dawkins’s book was in The Economist. At least the NYTimes review wasn’t as shameful as the one they did for Dennett’s book on religion ... faint praise I know ...

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Posted: 28 October 2006 03:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Doug , thanks. Empty is the right word.  I will have to read more of your posts!

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Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism.He might be wrong!His cognitive defects might impact his posting. Logic is the bane of theists.‘Religion is mythinformation.“Reason saves, not that fanatic Galilean!
  ’ Life is its own validation and reward and ultimate purpose.”

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Posted: 29 October 2006 06:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Our libraries have large sections devoted to fiction.  The situations and characters don’t exist, but it’s fun to read, and can be educational as well as entertaining.  Just because something isn’t real doesn’t mean it’s without meaning.  Certainly the existentialists wrote much of their philosophy in the framework of novels (You might claim that existentialism is meaningless, and I might agree, but that’s beside the point LOL  ). 

Sorry if I’ve missed the subtlties of the arguments, but as a retired chemist I wasn’t allowed to take any philosophy courses as an undergraduate. 

Occam

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Posted: 29 October 2006 08:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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[quote author=“Occam”]Sorry if I’ve missed the subtlties of the arguments, but as a retired chemist I wasn’t allowed to take any philosophy courses as an undergraduate. 

smile

No, it sounds like you’ve got the argument pretty well. But what do you mean you weren’t allowed to take philosophy courses? Too many chem courses for the major?

Anyhow I wouldn’t sweat it, chemistry is much more important!

:wink:

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Posted: 29 October 2006 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Right.  The School of Letters and Science requred two semesters of philosophy, but chem majors were exempted because of the heavy load of chem, math and physics courses required.

Chemistry was certainly important for me to make a living, but it was only after I started reading and thinking about philosophy and ethics that I began to develop a primitive understanding of why I was doing what I was, and what I wanted to define as the meaning of my life.

I don’t know if it’s helped, but it’s a lot of fun playing the thought games.  smile

Occam

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Posted: 29 October 2006 03:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I think as long as you have a rational, skeptical and inquisitive approach to life you will likely know most of what you need from philosophy. There are good books you could search out of course, but many might not be precisely what you would find interesting ... there’s a lot of garbage too, so caveat emptor.

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Posted: 11 January 2007 11:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I think there is a false assumption here. That is the big sky daddy is the norm. I don’t believe that is true and I have read enough scholarly work to believe neither do the people who stud religion (inside and out).

Most foundational concepts of god claim that it is a thing that is unknowable and that every description is metaphor. Most even warn that the metaphor are so poor as to be useless. So those human descriptors are meaningless. Much like calling it Dark Matter is just a place holder, it tells us nothing of relevance about the stuff.

They all also start with an idea of an internal, thought based reality and process. A totally individual and subjective introspective path to understanding. Much like Descartes who relies on an introspection to root his empiricism.

These introspection’s are by their very nature not empirical and highly subjective. Much like the sensation of pain. Where our empirical studies may understand the physical process of a nerve, they do nothing to understand the subjective measure of a persons pain sensation. So too empiricism does nothing to further the cogito, or any other introspective a-priori claim.

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Posted: 12 January 2007 01:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Chris, having looked around a bit at the anthropological literature, I don’t think that most everyday concepts of god are of something “unknowable”; indeed, far from it. The “unknowable” sort of god really is more of a construction of a certain kind of 19th/20th century theology.

Now, what I believe Atran and others say is that many of our specifically religious notions are, as you note, metaphorical and “non-cognitive”. That’s probably so. But nonetheless they also show that much superstition (from where traditional religions spring) comes from over attributing agency to the world. So, when we hear a strange sound in the night, our natural initial impression is that it was made by an agent of some kind—flesh-and-blood if we can locate one, and potentially “supernatural” if we can’t.

These sorts of primitive notions of agency that pervade traditional cultures, in trees, rocks, mountains, ancestor deities, etc., are the wellspring of our more modern, theologically oriented notions of god. But they aren’t “unknowable” ... indeed, Atran shows how they tend to behave in certain predictable ways.

The modern notion of god can’t be unknowable in practice, either, if it is to be the focus of prayer, worship and appeasement. After all, a truly unknowable god is a god that you wouldn’t know would accept prayer, worship or appeasement, or if so, what sort of prayer, worship or appeasement. So IMO the notion of an unknowable god is about as far from any sort of everyday god belief as can be. It is essentially a theoretical construct of a certain sort of highly educated and confused professor.

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Posted: 12 January 2007 03:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Doug,

I’ll agree that many western gods were corporeal…more of a heroic tradition. And I’ll also agree that western Christianity has incorporated that type of mythos into its god ideology.

However all far east traditions and for the most part middle east (Remember the Abrahamic traditions are all eastern) are founded in an ineffable transcendent reality and source of all things…god.

And to ignore this type of god concept is to ignore some important eastern theologies, many that predate and some that are considered influential to modern Abrahamic concepts, including:

Gnosticism
Kabbalah
Sufism
Taoism
Tibetan Buddhism
Vedanta (Hinduism)
Yoga (Hinduism)
Zen (Buddhism)

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