Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Nathan Jacobson Speaks

You listen.

19 comments:

Tag-photos said...

Already into the first paragraph and I see pretty much utter nonsense.

The analogy of being raised by Margaret (my grandmother??) than being told she was not your birth mother. Of course he would still believe he has a birth mother.

Problem here is that (with possible exceptions of human cloning, or ethical boundaries of test tube babies) it is fairly easy to ascertain that all people were born from a mother.

What is not possible though is to prove though is that a god exists, even if we do not know the identity of that god.

But I will press on despite my obvious disagreeances on his logic.

Christopher said...

TAG,

This: "Already into the first paragraph and I see pretty much utter nonsense."

In contrast with this: "The analogy of being raised by Margaret (my grandmother??) than being told she was not your birth mother. Of course he would still believe he has a birth mother.

Problem here is that (with possible exceptions of human cloning, or ethical boundaries of test tube babies) it is fairly easy to ascertain that all people were born from a mother."


Tells me that you are contradicting yourself. The second quote shows that you understand and agree with Nathan's point, but the first quote tells me you disagree and find Nathan's article to be nonsense. So which is it: utter nonsense that you disagree with? Or something you understand and agree with?

Keep in mind your second quote simply re-illustrates Nathan's point: that being told your mother is not your biological mother doesn't mean you don't have a mother; or, as you pointed out, a progenitor of some description.

"What is not possible though is to prove though is that a god exists, even if we do not know the identity of that god."

I think you may have missed the point of Nathan's article if you've taken the trajectory that he's out to prove God's existence. Nathan is making a philosophical point that, with respect to rejecting the existence of certain other gods, complete disbelief in all gods is not necessarily the next most logical step. I'll quote Nathan himself, however:

"The radical diversity of theological views is worthy of attention in its own right. Nonetheless, it hardly does away with theism as the commonly held belief that it is, nor is it, in the form considered here, an explanation of or an argument for the move from theism to atheism."

Have fun with your continued reading!

Tag-photos said...

"Tells me that you are contradicting yourself"

Except that human cloning, to the best of my knowledge, is not yet viable.
Even test tube babies have a biological mother, egg donor.

I meant those as humour, btw...

So while if you were told you mother was not your birth mother you would still know without a doubt that you had a mother. not because you believed it, but because there are simply no other options.

So I completely disagree with the authors analogy.

Only way to agree with it is if we already knew that a god exists and we were simply trying to figure out who god is, the identity of god.

Yes I am aware that he later in that paragraph says essentially that. But the analogy used was to try to disprove, or at discredit, the thought that we are all atheists varying degree.


I am seeing more and more arguments that seems to either assume the existence of god, or that god does not exist as a main point of their argument.
Trying to convince that god exists by using an argument that can only work when the assumption of his existence is already in place is plain dumb, in my opinion. And that is what that analogy needs to be correct.

Christopher said...

"I am seeing more and more arguments that seems to either assume the existence of god, or that god does not exist as a main point of their argument.
Trying to convince that god exists by using an argument that can only work when the assumption of his existence is already in place is plain dumb, in my opinion."


Okay, you can have your opinion. However, I think there is a fair deal of weight behind the presuppositionalism implied in assuming the existence of a deity. At least as much as the pressupositionalism implied in assuming the non-existence of deity.

To be sure, dismissing out of hand the necessity for assuming anything as a neutral basis for the beginning of knowledge begs the question of empiricism (the favoured epistemology for scientific understanding), too: what has to be assumed categorically to agree that evidential knowledge is valid, even possible?

So, either way you slice it, bud, you're going to have to make some basic assumptions for knowledge to even begin to be possible in any formal sense. So assuming the existence of God as a basis for asking important questions concerning him/her/it is one apologetic method among many. It is not a whole picture in itself, by any means, but it is a beginning place.

Empiricism lauds its neutrality in the pursuit of knowledge, but fails to see the assumptions that make its claimed neutrality a glaring bias.

Tag-photos said...

I just can't stand behind an argument that has as a main point the assumption that it is true in the first place.

Christopher said...

"I just can't stand behind an argument that has as a main point the assumption that it is true in the first place."

Including that argument?

Christopher said...

TAG,

On a more poignant level, how can you stand behind any argument unless you assume it is true? If an argument doesn't assume its own veracity it is simply a useless mash of words unworthy of your time, and the time of the person who has to assume that you're actually standing by your word.

I think you ought to rethink your position on the necessity of presuppositions in human intelligibility.

Tag-photos said...

"On a more poignant level, how can you stand behind any argument unless you assume it is true?"

Because it can be proven.

My earlier statement was not even an argument, it was a personal choice and opinion.


It is very clear we think very differently.

I come to conclusions based on arguments, evidence, observation, etc...

You seem to come to arguments, evidence, observation, etc... based on a preconceived conclusion.
I can NOT think like that.

Christopher said...

TAG,

Yes, we do think very differently. I've been intimately aware of that fact for quite a number of years. Let's say, since I was about 16 years old.

However, when you say, "I come to conclusions based on arguments, evidence, observation, etc..." I have no difference with you at all. I, too, consider all those things valid. But behind them all is the presupposition that what you argue, consider evidence, and observe are all things that (assumedly) find a correspondence in reality, and that that correspondence is reliably accurate and actual. If you don't assume that much, you're fooling yourself.

Also, while you've managed a clever turn of phrase when you write, "You seem to come to arguments, evidence, observation, etc... based on a preconceived conclusion. I can NOT think like that", you have not managed to deal with my point that both of us have to presuppose a certain correspondence to reality in order to reflect anything intelligible in what we write, or say.

Go ahead and try to disprove me, but you will have to rely on a certain set of presuppositions to do so, you cannot escape that fact. Once you've realised that, we can correspond on the merits and drawbacks of evidentialism, and empiricism. We can also enjoy a foray into rationalism, and rational empricism, presuppositionalism, fideism, compatibalism, and all sorts of wonderful epistemological systems. But aback of them all is the inescapable fact that they all start from a certain set of assumptions and move out from those assumptions to give evidence for their truth.

In that much, we do not function differently, even if you deny that much as true.

Tag-photos said...

There are differences in assumptions and conclusions.

I make both at times.

For instance today my son was talking about the woman in the car next to us.
First he calls her "that guy".

I make the assumption that if they look like a woman than it is a woman. Still an assumption if you go look in the "nightclub" portion of my website you will know what I mean :) I actually said "That guy is a girl"

Then he says "no girl, mommy"

So I make another assumption "Yes she s a mommy, but not your mommy" because there was a young child in the back seat.

These are assumptions. Statements made with an assumption of truth, like you say conclusions are born of.

A conclusion, however....

Let's say I want to figure out how to replace a set of brake pads.

I research using available sources. For me that was internet for the first day or two. I requested guidance from someone that was supposed to be a mechanic, but he never showed up.
Then off to the next source and gained more information from the staff at the store, as well as an instruction sheet, step by step instructions (lost those).

Finally I dug in and through experimentation (and cursing) I changed the brake pads.

Then through research observation and experimentation I was able to change my brake pads. Other words came to the conclusion that of what steps were needed to change brake pads, as well as a few that were not.

Of course in doing so I did make some assumptions, such as jacking the car up, axle stands, removing tires.... Then again those assumptions were not needed because of the research that would have told me those steps anyways.

So Chris.... Where was the assumption in that?

What I commonly see here is, specific to god's existence, is th assumption that god does exist. Then evidence is fabricated to support that, and that conclusion is proven through assumptions, fabrications, fallacy of stating that not being able to disprove is proof in itself.

Christopher said...

Okay, TAG, let's start with something tediously basic: what is knowledge?

Tag-photos said...

"what is knowledge?"

Thought.

Christopher said...

Are you saying that 'thinking' and 'knowing' are synonymous?

Tag-photos said...

Sure.

As soon as you have a thought of something you have knowledge of it.

The validity of that knowledge is unknown though.

Christopher said...

"As soon as you have a thought of something you have knowledge of it.

The validity of that knowledge is unknown though."


The difficulty I have with your definition, TAG, is that you are describing the action that takes place using knowledge; namely, thinking. In this case, that action is not a thing in itself, but describes what can be done with that thing -- that thing, of course, being knowledge.

Or put it in a less abstract sense, defining a 'car' by stating it is 'driving' misses the definition of 'car'; defining 'ball' by stating it is 'throwing' is clearly off-course.

Or, since you originally used the noun 'thought' to define the noun 'knowledge', we have come no further with that arrangement since a definition should seek to give some account of the nature of that noun.

Let's attempt a different definition. Feel free to debate me because defining 'knowledge' is not easy, but it is necessary if I'm to continue to attempt to show you how all knowledge requires presupposition at its most base level.

Here is a proposed definition: 'knowledge' is received information; it is raw, uninterpreted data.

Tag-photos said...

And of course that raw, uninterpreted data is placed in us through thought.

By your definition things that we can imagine would not be knowledge.

Also by stating that the knowledge is "received information" than it must be passed on to us. So no knowledge could ever be unique or new.

No thought seems to be the best rounded out and simplest definition I can think of. Of course it is also so vague as to be useless.

But as human being nothing exists to us until it is accepted as a neural impulse in our brain, in other words thought.

No matter how miniscule the amount of thought that goes into it.

Look around you, everything you see you are thinking about, or at least can be defined as a thought in your mind. If not then your mind does not register it and you have no knowledge of it.

The action of thought does not happen because of knowledge, knowledge is thought.

Thinking about things is something you can do with knowledge. But everything in your brain is a thought.

Nate Jacobson said...

He speaks again :-) Wow, that post title reminds me of Nietzche's "Thus Spoke Zarathrustra". I hope there was nothing so imperious in the tone of the article to warrant that allusion. In any case, thanks for engaging my "One Less God" article. Just to clarify, Tag, I don't think I imply that the existence of God need be assumed. I'd hate to be begging the question. My principal point was just that the reasons for belief in a particular entity — whether it be God or my mother — can be, and in this case are, of a different sort than those for believing in some entity simpliciter. (For what it's worth, Chris, the link to Afterall probably isn't best situated under "Seculinks" in your blogroll. But thanks much for the link regardless.) g'day.

Christopher said...

Wow! Hey, Nate! Thank you so much for dropping by and clarifying your argument for TAG.

I have to say I was really pleasantly surprised to see your comment, and I hope we can engage in more dialogue together. I have very much enjoyed reading the articles you've written; I learn a lot from them.

On a different note, I take your hint about being cast under "Seculinks". I'll put it in a more appropriate spot.

Cheers!

stephy said...

Really interesting. Thanks for posting that.