Saturday, April 29, 2006
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
N. T. Wright
Friday, April 21, 2006
Jon Kvanvig to Join Baylor Faculty
Monday, April 17, 2006
Stupid Reasoning and Beckwith's Tenure Denial
Sunday, April 16, 2006
I Sometimes Wonder...
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Presentism and Truthmakers
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Exposing a Presupposition
Augustine and The Spirit as "Love"
Friday, April 07, 2006
Ongoing at Culture Watch
A Kinder, Gentler [Gnostic] Judas
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Moreland's Substance Dualism Part II: An Argument from the Indexicality of Thoughts
We turn now to survey an argument offered by Moreland to support substance dualism. I have chosen this one from among his extensive arsenal simply because I find it interesting and compelling. Also known as the argument from the experience of first-person subjectivity, this line of reasoning seems true prima facie. It is based largely on a proper understanding of indexicals (expressions of a first-person point of view, e.g., I, here, now), but is helped considerably by first-person introspection. Before delving into the argument itself, a review of these concepts will no doubt prove helpful.
Introspection is nothing new. It is, in fact, the oldest research technique in psychology. There are various types of introspection, but we are interested only in its cognitive form. Introspection comes in two levels: (1) Simple, which refers to a direct report of sensations, feelings, and/or thoughts, and (2) reflective, which refers to one’s reactions (both cognitive and affective) to what one is experiencing and reporting. Hilary Kornblith has observed:
If we wish to know what is going on in someone else’s mind, we must observe their behaviour; on the basis of what we observe, we may sometimes reasonably draw a conclusion about the person’s mental state. Thus, for example, on seeing someone smile, we infer whether they are upset. But this is not, at least typically, the way in which we come to know our own mental states. We do not need to examine our own behaviour in order to know how we feel, what we believe, what we want and so on…. The term used to describe this special mode of access which we seem to have to our own mental states is ‘introspection.1
Thus, “you experience goings-on in the world, and, turning inward (“introspecting”), you experience your experiencing. 2 Though we are considering introspection only insofar as it may provide support for the argument from the indexicality of thoughts, it is worth noting that Moreland does base another argument on it alone.3
As indicated above, indexicals are basically expressions of a first-person point of view. These include such terms as I, here, now, there, then: Here and now refer to where and when I am; there and then are where and when I am not. ’I’ is the most basic indexical and refers to a self that is known by acquaintance with one's own consciousness in acts of self-awareness. ‘I’ am immediately aware of my own self and ‘I’ know who ‘I’ refers to when ‘I’ use it; it refers to an individual as the self-conscious self-reflexive owner of his own body and mental states.4
We take these words to be token-reflexive, that is, they systematically change their referents in a context-dependent way.5 For example, if two individuals simultaneously utter the phrase “I am here,” (which undoubtedly happens daily), are they each saying the exact same thing? Of course not; the statements are context-dependent. When person A says, “I am here,” she is referring to herself, as well as to a certain place. The same goes for person B. Even if they were arriving simultaneously at the same place, they would still not be saying the same thing: each phrase has a unique referent, namely, the speaker.
Subjective states of experience also exist. These experiences are such that I have a unique, first-person perspective of them; they are experiences of my “I” that cannot be reduced to third-person characterizations. This is often described by saying there is “something it is like” to having these experiences (e.g., what it is like to be me, what it is like for me to hear a bird singing), something, the content of which, cannot be captured without indexical language.
A completely physicalist description of the world would be one in which everything would be exhaustively describable from a third-person point of view in terms of objects, properties, processes, and their spatiotemporal locations.6 This points to the falsity of physicalism because “according to physicalism, there are no fundamentally basic or intrinsic (irreducible), privileged first-person perspectives.”7 Moreland approvingly quotes Thomas Nagel (a philosopher devoid of any religious tendencies) concerning this:
If physicalism is to be defended, the phenomenological features [the sounds, colors, smells, tastes of experience that make the experience what it is] must themselves be given a physical account. But when we examine their subjective character it seems that such a result is impossible.8
Thus, a formal argument may be formed:
(1) Statements using the first-person indexical ‘I’ express facts about persons that cannot be expressed in statements without the first-person indexical. (2) If I am a physical object, then all the facts about me can be expressed in statements without the first-person indexical. (3) Therefore, I am not a physical object. (4) I am either a physical object or an immaterial substance. (5) Therefore, I am an immaterial substance.9
1 “Introspection: Epistemology of,” in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, vol. 4, ed. by Edward Craig (London: Routledge, 1998), emphasis mine.
2 John Heil, “Awareness,” in The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy 2nd ed., ed. Robert Audi (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999).
3 The argument goes as follows (as in “The Soul and Life Everlasting: Introduction,” 434). (1)I am an unextended centre of consciousness (justified by introspection). (2) No physical object is an unextended centre of consciousness. (3)Therefore, I am not a physical object. (4)Either I am a physical object or an immaterial substance. (5)Therefore, I am an immaterial substance.
4 Moreland, “Body and Soul Part II: Why the Soul is Immaterial,” in Facts for Faith, no. 7, 2001, available online .
5 See Philosophical Foundations, 294.
7 “Physicalism, Naturalism and the Nature of Human Persons,” 233.
8 “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” in his Mortal Questions (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press,1979), 167, quoted in Moreland, Scaling the Secular City, 86.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Simplicity and the Divine Persons
There is, accordingly, a good which is alone simple, and therefore alone unchangeable, and this is God. By this Good have all others been created, but not simple, and therefore not unchangeable. "Created," I say -- that is, made, not begotten. For that which is begotten of the simple Good is simple as itself, and the same as itself. These two we call the Father and the Son; and both together with the Holy Spirit are one God; and to this Spirit the epithet Holy is in Scripture, as it were, appropriated. And He is another than the Father and the Son, for He is neither the Father nor the Son. I say "another," not "another thing," because He is equally with them the simple Good, unchangeable and co-eternal. And this Trinity is one God; and none the less simple because a Trinity. For we do not say that the nature of the good is simple, because the Father alone possesses it, or the Son alone, or the Holy Ghost alone; nor do we say, with the Sabellian heretics, that it is only nominally a Trinity, and has no real distinction of persons; but we say it is simple, because it is what it has, with the exception of the relation of the persons to one another. For, in regard to this relation, it is true that the Father has a Son, and yet is not Himself the Son; and the Son has a Father, and is not Himself the Father. But, as regards Himself, irrespective of relation to the other, each is what He has; thus, He is in Himself living, for He has life, and is Himself the Life which He has. It is for this reason, then, that the nature of the Trinity is called simple, because it has not anything which it can lose, and because it is not one thing and its contents another, as a cup and the liquor, or a body and its color, or the air and the light or heat of it, or a mind and its wisdom. For none of these is what it has: the cup is not liquor, nor the body color, nor the air light and heat, nor the mind wisdom. And hence they can be deprived of what they have, and can be turned or changed into other qualities and states, so that the cup may be emptied of the liquid of which it is full, the body be discolored, the air darken, the mind grow silly...
According to this, then, those things which are essentially and truly divine are called simple, because in them quality and substance are identical, and because they are divine, or wise, or blessed in themselves, and without extraneous supplement. In Holy Scripture, it is true, the Spirit of wisdom is called "manifold" because it contains many things in it; but what it contains it also is, and it being one is all these things. For neither are there many wisdoms, but one, in which are untold and infinite treasures of things intellectual, wherein are all invisible and unchangeable reasons of things visible and changeable which were created by it. For God made nothing unwittingly; not even a human workman can be said to do so. But if He knew all that He made, He made only those things which He had known. Whence flows a very striking but true conclusion, that this world could not be known to us unless it existed, but could not have existed unless it had been known to God.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Augustine On the Trinitarian Analogy of Love
But what is love or charity, which divine Scripture so greatly praises and proclaims, except the love of the good? But love is of some one that loves, and with love something is loved. Behold, then, there are three things: he that loves, and that which is loved, and love. What, then, is love, except a certain life which couples or seeks to couple together some two things, namely, him that loves, and that which is loved? And this is so even in outward and carnal loves. But that we may drink in something more pure and clear, let us tread down the flesh and ascend to the mind. What does the mind love in a friend except the mind? There, then, also are three things: he that loves, and that which is loved, and love. It remains to ascend also from hence, and to seek those things which are above, as far as is given to man. But here for a little while let our purpose rest, not that it may think itself to have found already what it seeks; but just as usually the place has first to be found where anything is to be sought, while the thing itself is not yet found, but we have only found already where to look for it; so let it suffice to have said thus much, that we may have, as it were, the hinge of some starting-point, whence to weave the rest of our discourse.
De Trinitate VIII. 10. 14