2. Are you familiar with the writings of the muslim philosopher Al-Ghazali and his idea now called "Occasionalism"? It seems to me that the person of faith must give up his/her faith in cause and effect for the supernatural to make sense, and Al-Ghazali seems to be the only person to have ever understood this.
Thanks again for your blog! It's fantastic!
Am I familiar with occasionalism? Indeed I am and have given it quite a bit of thought. I advocate a contemporary version of occasionalism in "Concurrentism or Occasionalism? American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, vol. LXX, no. 3, Summer 1996, pp 339-359. This post will give the reader some idea of what occasionalism is.
Does the believer have to give up his faith in cause and effect for the supernatural to make sense? No, at the very most he would have to abandon certain views of causation. That there is causation in the natural world is undeniable, a 'Moorean fact,' a datum. Anyone who denies this is a lunatic who belongs in the same 'bin' with eliminativists in the philosophy of mind. For if one were to deny causation, then one would in effect be denying that there is any difference between causal and noncausal event sequences. But surely there is such a difference as all will admit including al-Ghazali and Malebranche. I flip a switch (e1) and the light goes on (e2). At the same time the phone rings (e3). E1-e2 is a causal event sequence. E1-e3 is not. Philosophers are not in the business of denying such data as these. Philosophical questions first arise when we ask what it is for one event to cause another. That there is causation is a pre-philosophical datum. What causes what is a question for experience and science. What causation is is a philosophical question.
Some theories of causation are inconsistent with theism, but not all are. For example, if it is maintained that all causation is event-causation and that there cannot be be agent-causation, then classical theism is ruled out. And I should also point out that one can be a theist without holding an occasionalist theory of causation. For example, once could be a concurrentist. But this is not the place to go into these details.
One of the theses advanced by Carl Schmitt in his Political Romanticism (MIT Press, 1986, tr. Guy Oakes; German original first appeared in 1919 as Politische Romantik, 2nd ed. 1925) is that romanticism is a form of occasionalism. As Schmitt puts it, “Romanticism is subjectified occasionalism.” (PR 17) In this set of notes I attempt to interpret and develop this thought. I will take the ball and run with it, but I won’t quit the field of Schmitt’s text. Before proceeding, a preliminary point about metaphysics needs to be made.
I wonder if I can get any of my esteemed readers to swallow the following suggestion. Ten years or so ago it came into my head that Hume's analysis of causation in terms of (i) temporal precedence, (ii) spatiotemporal contiguity, and (iii) constant conjunction can be reasonably viewed as occasionalism without God.