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Tuesday, January 18, 2022


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One approach to an apparently insoluble problem is to find a way to see it as not a problem. This worked for Planck when he introduced the constant named for him, to solve the "Problem" of cavity radiation. He thought it was a mathematical cheat, and it turned out instead to be a real thing. Something similar is lurking to be discovered about consciousness, I think, and the signpost pointing to it is to consider that consciousness is one of the fundamentals of Creation, and that it does not have to arise from particular combinations of matter. This, of course, broadens the concept of "everything" beyond that which is merely physical. Signed, Joe Odegaard, Architect and Barbarian.

Hi Bill,
I'd like to more clearly understand the opposition, if it be such, between 'faith and hope' and 'sober inquiry' in general, not just this context. Is it the opposition between Athens and Jerusalem?


That's a topic for another occasion. But yes it is the opposition between Athens (philosophy) and Jerusalem (religion). What am objecting to in this context is the secularization of religious notions by materialists such as Strawson and rhe Churchlands. In the end there is something utterly absurd about HOPING that future science will conclusively show that we are nothing but complex physical systems.

“It doesn't strike me as particularly intellectually honest to insist that materialism just has to be true and to uphold it by widening the concept of the physical to embrace what is mental.”

I agree. This approach strikes me as a dogmatic kind of materialistic fideism.

In addition to broadening the concept of the physical, Strawson might also be exaggerating the human epistemic capacity to know matter and its supposed mental properties. This reminds me of what Hare claimed some moral thinkers do: “puff up” our moral abilities and/or diminish the moral demands on us, thereby artificially closing the gap between the two. The result: one can claim to meet a contrived standard of moral uprightness. (The Moral Gap, Part II – Human Limits)


Hi Elliot,

At first I thought you were referring to R. M. Hare. And then I hit the link. I just now ordered John Hare's book. I had stumbled upon the problem he discusses on my own some years ago and have written a post or two about it. It appears that he has gone deep into the matter. I couldn't find a review of it on NDPR, however.

I think you mentioned Hare's book already a while back.

Bill, I also recall mentioning the book. You have a good memory.

You asked: "But what do the theological virtues of faith and hope have to do with sober inquiry?"

It seems to me that both faith and sober inquiry can be open to obtaining the truth. One important difference between the two is that the approach of faith must be wary of prioritizing faith over truth, while genuine inquiry, insofar as it follows the arguments where they lead, does not prioritize faith over truth. (Although the approach of reasoning has its own pitfalls for which to be cautious.)

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