Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Daniel Dennett and Alister McGrath on Religion

Thanks to Matt Mullins over and Prosblogion you can check out an interesting audio exchange between Daniel Dennett and Alister McGrath. Also you can find a PDF copy of McGrath's arguments here.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Moreland's Substance Dualism: Part 1

This is the first of a two part post on J. P. Moreland's version of Substance Dualism. As such, you won't see too much original thinking; the point (for now) is to present (accurately, I hope) Moreland's position. Why? Well, it's just easier than coming up with one myself. In part 2 I will present one (of many) of Moreland's supporting arguments. Among responses to the perennial (and often nebulous) debate known as the Mind/Body problem, J. P. Moreland has defended a position of Substance Dualism. This he defines as "the view that the soul- I, the self, mind- is an immaterial substance different from the body to which it is related." So, "I am my soul and I have a body." By way of distinction, property dualism claims "a person is a living physical body having mind, the mind consisting, however, of nothing but a more or less continuous series of conscious or unconscious states and events...which are the effects but never the causes of bodiliy activity." We may futher distinguish Moreland as a Thomistic substance dualist, rather than Cartesian (this at his behest). The dissimilarities are subtle and impertenent (I'm sure one of you Aquinas or Descartes scholars will make me pay for that claim), so we won't linger on them. Suffice it to say that Moreland understands Descartes to (1) have incorrectly reduced the soul to the mind, and (2) have mistakenly distinguished between two seperable substances- mind and body (whereas Moreland recognizes only one substance- the soul, with the body being an ensouled biological and physical structure that depends on the soul for its existence). Concerning (1), Moreland (as a Thomistic dualist) holds that the soul contains, among other things, the faculty of mind (which, incidentally, identifies him as a dichotomist). Hence, the soul is much more than the mind, and the two ought not be conflated. As for (2), Cartesian dualists argue that the body is a physical, ordered aggregate fully describable in physical terms: the mind is related to the mind only via an external, causal relationship. Moreland, on the other hand, though agreeing the body is a physical structure, argues that it is not an aggregate: the body needs the soul. The body, it is claimed, is made human by the presence of the soul diffused equally throughout. This, obviously, is meant to be an overview- it is merely a catalyst for discussion. If you are familiar with Moreland's work, much of the above phraseology probably rung a bell: that's because a good deal of it came straight from several of his works. I did not include a bibliography for the sake of space, if you want sources: ask (nicely) and ye shall receive!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Eternity, Divine Knowledge, and Theories of Time

The guys over at Prosblogion have been really going at it in a couple of recent posts over the questions of atemporalism, A and B theories of time, libertarianism, Banezianism and Molinism, and a host of others. The first post by Kevin Timpe, Divine Eternity and Libertarian Free Will, addresses the question of...well, divine eternity and libertarian free will. Jeremey Pierce follows up with another post on Divine Atemporality and Tensed Facts. Check it out when you get a chance.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Plantinga's Take on the Dover Decision on ID

Eminent Philosopher Alvin Plantinga's thoughts are here.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Kripkology 101

I've been working through Saul Kripke's Naming And Necessity and I recently stumbled across this gem on page 64. Commenting on the cluster concept notion of proper names he says:
Let me state then what the cluster concept theory of names is. It really is a nice theory. (The only defect I think it has is probably common to all philosophical theories. It's wrong. You may suspect me of proposing another theory in its place; but I hope not, because I'm sure it's wrong too if it is a theory.)

Sunday, March 05, 2006


After watching several of Hollywood's finest parade on the red carpet tonight at the Oscars, I thought I might meditate on the true nature of beauty. And who better to turn to than Plato.
When a man has been thus far tutored in the lore of love, passing from view to view of beautiful things, in the right and regular ascent, suddenly he will have revealed to him, as he draws to the close of his dealings in love, a wondrous vision, beautiful in its nature; all his previous labors, Socrates, were for the sake of this!
Symposium 210E
Unlike the beautiful things that we ordinarily experience that are beautiful at one time but not the other, or are beautiful in some respect but not the other, this Beauty is itself altogether unchanging, eternal, and unqualifiedly beautiful (211A).

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Chuck Norris

For all you die-hard Chuck Norris fans out there I found a link to this over at Tu Quoque. I couldn't stop laughing.