Reason as the Leading Motive

Serving Faith in Reasonable Doses

Posted by Jerry on September 19, 2006

Pope Benedict of the Catholic Church is trying to mask the fundamental dangers of faith in small, innocuous doses of reason. Desperately attempting to revitalize the Scholastic tradition of Aquinas in the Catholic Church, and rid itself of mysticism and enigma, the Pope is defending Christianity–and God–by an appeal to a return to Reason! As Aquinas had argued, so now does the Pope, that Reason and Faith are complementary; that the essential nature of God is rational and logical, and that the man has been endowed with the same apparatus of reason and logic that we share with God.

It is most dangerous when one blurs the very crucial line between reason and faith; because faith is a form of force, and force is utterly incompatible with reason. In any mixture of or compromise between good and evil, as Rand said, the good suffers and the evil wins out; in any compromise between reason and faith, reason suffers and faith (force) wins out.

Therefore, in light of this, I wish to highlight my own unique arguments for atheism against the claims that reason and faith are complementary.

First, the very idea that God has endowed man with reason and logic contradicts Christianity’s very cherished Book of Genesis. Read my “God’s Original Plan for Humanity.” Excerpt:

The Devil liberated human beings from the state of ignorance and animal-like existence. The Devil gave us the glimpse of immense possibilities, of achievements, of the concept of happiness, joy, love, of the higher meanings of morality, choice, freedom, failure, etc.
The Devil made the world we live in, possible. The Devil free-ed humans to build our own heaven, here in Earth.

Next, the Pope says the Christian idea of God is essentially rational in nature–that God’s nature does not subsume the contradictory, for example, even God cannot make a circle with four corners. Fair enough, and I agree wholeheartedly. But, why stop there? Read my “God’s Limitations.” Excerpt:

Since no capacity to ever do wrong exists in God, He is bounded by His nature to always do right — automatically.
Thus, no free-will, thus no choice, then automatic nature, like instinct. Thus, this whole argumentation of God being “perfectly moral” and having “free-will” and being independently “omnipotent” seems to fall flat on its face.

In another related, but seperate posts, I demonstrate how a God that is immortal and infinite must by necessity of His nature have a very monotonously boring life! Excerpt:

God cannot but live. God cannot but be moral. God cannot but be perfect. Thus, all of those things (at least), have absolutely no alternatives. And in the face of no alternatives, one cannot engage in choice. Thus, God has no choice in the matter and therefore cannot value His own actions nor can He value His own existence. This also means that God is limited in the things He can do.

The point is that a God who follows the principles of logic must–ironically enough–by the necessity of His own logical nature, NOT exist! Thus, to claim that God is rational and logical is to claim that God does not exist! Thus, it is clear that at the most fundamental level, reason does not permit the existence of God, but only faith does, and hence, reason and faith are diametrically opposed at all levels.

However, in my “First Principles of Atheism” I argued that the best way to prove the non-existence of God is to have the believer admit–like the Pope did–that any concept of God must be intelligible and open to rational and logical scrutiny. If this condition is not met, then I will have equal legitimacy in claiming Batman (or Superman) as my deity as you have in claiming Jesus or the Spaghetti Monster as your deity. If God is not required to be intelligent or rational or logical, then anything and everything can be considered “God”; one does not even have to worry about consistency, let alone truth!

Anyway, I used this opportunity not only to argue against the modern trend of mixing faith with reason but also to highlight the uniqueness of my own approach to atheism based on reason not on faith.

27 Responses to “Serving Faith in Reasonable Doses”

  1. Big Dan said

    In your post you state, “However, in my “First Principles of Atheism” I argued that the best way to prove the non-existence of God is to have the believer admit–like the Pope did–that any concept of God must be intelligible and open to rational scrutiny.”

    You cannot, and should not, attempt to prove that something that exists, does not exist… and as a corollary, how can you attempt to prove that something that has not EVER been proven to exist, does in fact not exist.

    If an atheist, one must say he does not believe in the existence of a God. If he simply says that he does not believe in God, he has already granted God’s existence and is stating that he just does not believe in him – pretty much agnosticism.

    You can’t prove the non-existence of a non-existent. In fact, you can’t say anything about a non-existent except that it doesn’t exist.

    The onus is on the believer in God to prove his existence. That’s never been done, never will be done, cannot be done. One cannot prove something into existence that doesn’t exist either.

    If another says, “God exists”, it is legitimate to say, “prove it”.

    If I say No God(and I have to have the ‘no’ in there) exists. Another cannot rationally say, “prove it”.

    Summary – You do not have to, nor can you, prove the God does not exist.

    But you can prove that existence, exists – which eliminates the need to even discuss the mystical, faith- based, non-existent.

    Learn how to prove that existence exists and that THAT is the primary axiom of all else that exists.

    Need any clues?

    -Big Dan

  2. Ergo said

    Big Dan,

    I’ve addressed your points in my various posts on Atheism. Take the time to read them before you comment. You have come off looking uninformed.

    Moreover, to clarify, I reject the “passive” atheism method you espouse. My atheism is an assertive credo (as I have defined it in my other posts, go read them first) that states that atheism is the recognition of the fact that there is no god. I reject the passive approach to be comfortable in a logical principle of not proving the non-existent.

  3. Ergo said

    One more point I’d like to add, Big Dan. You clearly have not grasped the nature of axioms. You said: “you can prove that existence, exists”

    Uhh, actually, you can’t prove that. Existence exists is an axiom. The nature of axioms are such that they are irreducible primaries that cannot be proved. Any attempt at proof (or disproof, for that matter) has to fall back on the axiom itself… a self-defeating chore.

    Thus, existence exists cannot be proved. Try it and see! 🙂

  4. Ergo Said: Thus, existence exists cannot be proved. Try it and see!

    Ah.. that clears most of it. So it’s just a mere assumption on the basis of which we are building rules and judging people, condemning them and honouring them. On the basis of an assumption or an axiom as you choose to call it.

    What’s the point of having any philosphy then, if you are not sure whether your foundation is stable or not? And the very foundation is based upon the “faith” laid on an axiom? Doesn’t that mean “reason” depends on “faith”?

    I am not sure who was it, but I recall reading some philospher saying “What we experience is but the shadow of reality”. Makes sense now, doesn’t it? We create a map of reality and “hope” that this map is correct to scale and make all our plans on this map.

    Toohey was right, wasn’t he? Reason is limited.

    That’s why people turn to mysticsm my friend. Because you go deeper and deeper into the cave of reason, and you are hit by the hard wall of axiom which says “either respect me or get out”.

    No wonder people get out. After all what’s the point of sticking to something so stubborn and arrogant which demands “acceptance”?

    Moreover any proof for the validity of reason would be based on reason itself! Which is why , as you said we cannot prove “Existance Exists” because the axiom creates the subject-object duality which is so very essential for reason to operate.

    Hmmm. We need something more consistent and complete than a framework based on a whole lost of assumptions. Hailing one philosophical system to be superior over the other isn’t going to make any difference.

  5. Ergo said

    Randomwalker, this is what you said in one of your other comments here: “I am just a seeker, trying to resolve some confusions without making too many sweeping assumptions.”

    And then you lose practically all intellectual credibility by posting your comment above that is filled with really illogical statements and naive (I wish to use the word “stupid”) assumptions.

    It is clear that you have very little, if any, knowledge of philosophy in general and Objectivism in particular. Silence is the best course of action to adopt when one has so little knowledge of things.

    Axioms are NOT assumptions–the former is objectively and independently true, undeniable, irrefutable, and self-evident. The latter need not be true, can be denied, and is often not self-evident. Axioms are such that every attempt to negate or disprove them requires implicitly accepting them as true. Denying existence raises the questions: who is denying what? Who implies someone, what implies something. To say, “existence cannot be proved,” there must be an existing person to say it or think it. One cannot “speak” from non-existence and “say” existence does not exist.

    Thus, axioms are not what your SMALL MIND has taken to understand as assumptions! Reason is NOT based on faith. Axioms are not accepted on faith, but UNDERSTOOD and validated by reason. Moreover, and importantly, the philosophy of Ayn Rand–Objectivism–is not based exclusively and deductively on axioms. It is not a philosophy constructed on “A is A.” Objectivism, as the name implies, is a proper view of reality with man as the perceiver; it implies a philosophy that unites deduction and induction, object and subject, mind and body, fact and value, reality and abstractions, principles and practice.

    Thus, your argument that Objectivism and reason creates a “duality” (without really knowing the specific meaning of that word) is patently false and rejected by Objectivism.

    Randomwalker, if you would have refrained from making such “sweeping assumptions” (to use YOUR OWN words) in baselessly criticizing Objectivism, I might have extended you some intellectual respect and credibility. If you are truly and honestly interested in creating a conscious philosophy of life to provide you with the self-confidence for living on earth happily, then go educate yourself in Ayn Rand’s philosophy (beyond The Fountainhead, which seems to be the only book you have read of hers). And then, read other works on philosophy by other writers so you can judge for yourself why you accept whatever you do.

  6. 🙂 I would be then very much interested in knowing why paradoxes exist. There are so many of them floating around. Check any textbook on basic logic.

    Or is it that mathematics and philosophy is not something that go hand in hand.

    Why is it that some kind of music is pleasant while the others are not? Does that mean subjectivity or does it indicate the limitation of our language that we can’t tranlsate the sounds to words?

    To apply reason, you need a model of the thing on which you’ll be applying it. Which means that you’ll be reasoning on the tranlation of reality rather than reality itself. Have we validated that the translation is lossless? This is the assumption I am talking about.

    Try this tonite. When you go to bed, just try to find the *precise* time when you fell asleep.If you succeed, please let me know how you managed to achieve this feat. Because I am very interested in knowing whether we can observe without participating.

    I agree with you completely I haven’t read much of Ayn Rand. But a person’s life doesn’t begin and end with Ayn Rand, now does it? If you want to question me, why don’t I go and read Ayn Rand, I have the same question to you about so many other philosophers who have said so many things in the past. Did you read each one of them to dismiss them? Or have you taken it for granted because you’ve heard them all through Rand’s criticism of them.

    From experience, I found out you can be SILENT only in 2 situations –
    EITHER When you don’t know anything OR when you know everything.
    I agree I don’t belong to either of them. Which is why I am restless to know about things. But what about you? What is the point of writing, talking and discussing so much? Are you still having any doubts about your ideas? Or is it a way of validating your thoughts? But if you know, why validate?

  7. Ergo,
    Just a few small points. Despite your ad hominem-laced statement, one of the definitions of the term ‘Axiom’ *within philosophy* is ‘that which is assumed’. The proper definition of ‘Axiom’ within philosophy and logic is ‘a proposition that is not susceptible of proof or disproof; its truth is assumed to be self-evident’. Since axioms are not capable of being proven or disproven, idivduals are free to accept or reject them as they wish – the only implication is to the derivations of the axiom(s) in question.

    For example, please explain to me how you intend to prove that the Axiom of Choice is right… or wrong.

    While you may consider existence a ‘brute fact’ I am sure that you can find a number of scholarly works in your local university library that will purport to demonstrate that material existence is, indeed, an illusion. If, as you say, existence is an axiom, you cannot prove them wrong. Those against whom you will be arguing claim to be just as logical as you, yourself, claim to be. If existence is, indeed, axiomatic, you cannot provide formal proff within logic that it is, indeed, true.

    Further, you do not define what *you* mean when you say ‘existence’. Do you adhere to the ancient Grecians concept that thoughts and abstract principles are as much part of objective existence as, say, a rock? If not, how do you define such concepts as justice, loyalty, and good categorically within existence?

    As an aside, I am a bit surprised by your claim that Objectivism is not based upon axioms. I was under the belief that Rand herself claimed that Objectivism is based upon the Axiom of Existence, the Axiom of Consciousness, and the Law of Identity (which is actually an axiom, as she freely stated). Peikoff noted that Rand’s argumentation for these was not, of course, proof that they are true, but that they are axioms.

  8. Ergo said

    Aquinas Dad,

    Do not conflate axioms with assumptions. While the latter can be accepted or rejected as people wish, the former cannot be rejected and is always presumed in every attempt to refute the axioms. Thus, note the definition you provided for “axiom”: they are not susceptible to proof or disproof; its truth is assumed to be self-evident. Axioms can neither be proven or disproven; only validated and grasped.

    There is no such thing as an axiom of choice. Indeed, I don’t quite understand what you mean by it. (Edit: Are you referring to the volitional nature of man as axiomatic??)

    Existence is axiomatic; therefore, any “proof” attempting to refute existence will have to originate from non-existence; but a non-existent proof originating from a non-existent person using non-existent reason, non-existent concepts, and non-existent logic is at best nonsense.

    Any attempt to refute existence will have to originate in existence from an existing person using existing methods of cognition and proof, thereby implicitly having to accept the axiom of existence. This is the nature of axioms–they cannot be refuted, ever.

    Existence is the totality of all things in reality–including the human mind and the contents of the mind. Ideas are not platonic objects; ideas have epistemological existence, purely mind-dependent existence. All concepts are ultimately derived from reality, but require conceptual consciousness for its existence; without reality, there would be no concepts, but without a conceptual being, there would be no concepts either. For details, refer to books on Objectivist epistemology.

    Rand never claimed that her philosophy is based on axioms. Objectivism doesn’t begin with first principles and deduce its way out. Axioms cannot but be factual; whether they are regarded as true or not ultimately depends on each person’s ability to reason logically.

    P.S. Just a cautionary note. As you go farther into the archives of my blog, you might come across many posts written at that time which I don’t necessarily agree with entirely or in part anymore today (in terms of formulation, ideas, method, tone, etc.). I choose not to bother editing my old posts to preserve a historical record; afterall, that’s what archiving means.

  9. Ergo,
    Please direct yourself to the book “Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand”, Peikoff, ’93. Not to mention Atlas Shrugged on pg 1015 (well, in my version). Rand did, indeed, derive all of Objectivism from three axioms (see those works, please, as well as many of her short essays). And, unfortunately for you, there are logical arguments contra the three core axioms of Objectivism.

    Please google on the Axiom of Choice. there are other philosophies besides Objectivism and Axioms are key to methematics, too.

  10. Ergo said


  11. Is that all you can muster?

  12. Ergo said

    Aquinas dad, when you come to an evidently Objectivist blog and tell an Objectivist to read Atlas Shrugged and OPAR and insist that you know better than the Objectivist as to how the philosophy was devised, I can only but laugh at such audacity! What else do you want me to do–read AS and OPAR? Well, okay. I did. So now, what’s your question?

  13. You make the claim that,

    “Rand never claimed that her philosophy is based on axioms.”

    Ergo, I have read her works and listened to tapes of her lectures. Extensively. Also Peikoff, Branden(s), etc. That means that I have read her state, in her own words, that Objectivism is, indeed, based upon three axioms, as I listed them here.

    Who do you expect me to believe, you or Rand? If you want to claim Rand didn’t base Objectivism on the three axioms I listed when *RAND* stated that she DID, then I must conclude that you made the error.

    Further, your claim that,

    “There is no such thing as an axiom of choice”

    Reveals a stunning ignorance of any philosophy or formal logic other than Objectivism. As a matter of fact, when I read that statement the first time, I went back to your description to confirm that you do list Kurt Godel as one of the people whose works you admire. If you are, in fact, totally ignorant of the Axiom of Choice, I do not know how you can *understand* Godel’s work, let alone admire it since his second Incompleteness Theorem deals extensively with the Axioms of Set Theory… which include the Axiom of Choice, naturally.

  14. Ergo said

    Aquinas Dad,

    You have repeatedly asserted that “all of Objectivism is derived from three axioms”; I wonder why you haven’t brought out the relevant quotes then?

    Understand the difference between starting with first principles and deducing your way out (like mathematicians and rationalists do) and identifying the first principles and integrating the rest of your heirarchy of knowledge in consistent harmony with these first principles and each other. Objectivism is not the former but the latter. It is a body of principles that were derived from the application of reason to reality, i.e., with the union of deductive and inductive knowledge.

    For example, the nature of man is not analytically derived from any of the three axioms. The nature of man had to be identified empirically, factually, with reference to reality, and then integrated harmoniously with other deductively and inductively derived principles. Of course, we use the axioms as the base of assessing whether our identifications are contradictory or consistent.

    Regarding the axiom of choice, since you fail to quote me entirely and choose to give a false impression of my quote, I’ll quote myself completely:

    “There is no such thing as an axiom of choice. Indeed, I don’t quite understand what you mean by it. (Edit: Are you referring to the volitional nature of man as axiomatic??)”

    My full quote indicates that in the context of our discussion–given my post and these comments–I assumed you were referring to the volitional nature of man’s consciousness as an axiom of choice. Volition is not axiomatic, in the sense that it is neither automatic nor the most reducible level of cognitive activity. Since consciousness is epistemically active, the activities required at the conceptual and cognitive level have to chosen; volitional activity is fundamentally based on the choice to focus.

    The axiom of choice which you apparently now seem to be referring to–given your mention of Godel’s theorem of incompleteness–is specific to mathematics and number theory. Even Godel specifically argues that his theorem is not relevant beyond the strictly defined boundaries of abstract mathematics contra the whimsical and petulant insistence of theologian speculators like yourself.

    Therefore, I fail to see how that specifically mathematical axiom is relevant in our discussion, which is why the first time you mentioned it did not strike me as a mathematical reference but a reference to the volitional nature of man (being more relevant to our discussion). Nothing in your comment indicated that you wished to suddenly switch the discussion onto a mathematical direction.

    Finally, your latest comment is your second attempt at dishonestly representing my position; the first was on the Richard Dawkins thread where you ignorantly insinuated that I was unaware of historical ontological refutations, whereas one of my many refutations of anselm’s ontology was specifically Kantian. Actually, given your religious moral ethic, I don’t find your desperate dishonesty surprising.

  15. I could have sworn that I had posted another comment here – did I quit without posting?

  16. Ergo,
    Your claim that Axioms in Objectivism are not like Axioms in all other fields i, I fear, fatuous. Rand’s hierarchy of knowledge is effectively meaningless since she admits that there is no actual hierarchy involved. Objectivism makes claims; those claims appeal to certain assumptions about the nature of the universe; those assumptions are the three Axioms mentioned.

    See where this is going?

    As for the Axiom of Choice,in this conversation; !) I was obviously speaking generally about axioms as such; 2) I do not know how anyone who claims to be an admirer of Kurt Godel would not immediately recognize the term Axiom of Choice in virtually any context whatsoever. In my opinion this is like someone who claims familiarity with Objeectivism not recognizing the phrase “Axiom of Conscience”.

    If you are not aware of the context of my question about the Axiom of Choice I have no idea how to make it clearer than I did except perhaps this way – the nature of Axioms means that they are unprovable assumptions that are held by proponents as self-evident.

    As for ‘mis characterizing’ your attempt to respond to the Ontological Argument you claim to use a Kantian refutation. First of all, the Kantian approach was discarded as totally inadequate during his own lifetime over 200 years ago; second, won’t you lose your Objectivist Club membership for approving of Kant?

    More critically, the signs of desperation here are yours; you are attempting to impugn *me*, not my statements. I have provided books and page numbers for Rand’s works to back my claims – you have said ‘nuh-uh’; I have provided definitions of terms with examples – you have said ‘you’re a dishonest religious person’.

  17. Ergo said

    “In my opinion this is like someone who claims familiarity with Objeectivism not recognizing the phrase “Axiom of Conscience”. ”

    And yea, I would be that someone. Pray, tell me, Aquinasdad, what is the Objectivist “axiom of conscience”?

    Incidentally, Kant’s argument against Anselm’s is one of the strongest, and has not been refuted at all. If you claim that it has been, then prove it by demonstrating a refutation of Kant’s response to Anselm. In any case, this does not address the dishonesty of your claim that I was not aware of “over 900 years” of scholarship on Anselm. In fact, now I see you admitting that I had used Kant; only now you wish to introduce new claims like “Kant was already refuted” and that an Objectivist like myself could get “kicked-out of the club membership” for using Kant’s argument. New claims to cloud your original dishonesty. Seriously, religious man, where are your morals?

    In any case, you have added nothing to discuss the substance of the original post of this thread. Don’t bother commenting further.

  18. Nate T. said

    It’s not actually true that you can accept any axioms whatsoever in mathematics– the axioms in mathematics are attempts to capture important and widespread properties in the structures that mathematics studies, and as such are decidedly not “arbitrary assertions”. So, for example, if you are trying to prove something in abstract group theory, you can’t decide to assume the axioms of Euclidean Geometry and get very far in the question– the axioms simply do not apply to the situation.

    As for the axiom of choice, it states that you can construct sets in a certain way without specifying exactly how. That mathematicians (Godel and Cohen) constructed models of set theory in which AC is true and false, respectively, means about as much as the fact that the axioms of Euclidean geometry are “arbitrary” because they don’t give a good description of spherical geometry (what with that pesky parallel postulate that isn’t satisfied there).

    In any case, complaining about the supposed arbitrariness of AC in the context of a philosophical axiom like “there is something of which I am aware” is off base. The fact of existence is there in every situation, whether one cares to admit it or not.

  19. Eric said

    I think that a couple of confusions are at the root of the disagreements on these posts. Rand distinguishes between “axioms” and “axiomatic concepts.” An axiom, in Randian terms, is a statement that identifies the base of knowledge; it is a proposition that is composed of concepts. An axiomatic concept, on the other hand, is “the identification of a primary fact of reality, which cannot be analyzed.” Axioms can be analyzed (reduced) since they are propositions, while axiomatic concepts cannot.

    That being said, it is clear that while Objectivism may not deduce its way from first principles, it does claim that all knowledge rests on first principles, and thus Objectivism may be said to advocate a foundationalist epistemology. (Some relevant quotes are: “An axiom is a statement that identifies the *base* of knowledge”…; “Every philosophy *builds* on its *starting points*…Objectivism *begins* by naming and validating its *primaries*.” Objectivism may not work deductively from a set of axioms in its derivation of its philosophic notions, but it doesn’t follow from this that the integrated set of beliefs that results is not heirarchical. (Indeed, Peikoff clearly says that “knowledge has a heirarchical structure.”)

    There are many problems with foundationalist epistemologies, but I would like to suggest one in particular that Objectivists reading this post my want to consider. No concepts or propositions are self-evident when taken in isolation, but only when considered in relation to other beliefs, concepts, assumptions, etc. that we hold. The structure of justification therefore seems to be circular, not linear, and if this is so, one cannot speak of primaries (since all beliefs hang together; there isn’t a pillar of beliefs, but — in Quine’s phrase — a “web of beliefs”). But if this is so, then how can Objectivists speak meaningfully about a heirarchy of knowledge, or of a base of knowledge? Even the so-called axioms of Objectivism are themselves only understood in relation to other concepts, and are only justified (validated) through the use of other concepts. It seems that Objectivism has, at the root of its epistemology, a very serious contradiction.

  20. Nate T. said

    …while Objectivism may not deduce its way from first principles, it does claim that all knowledge rests on first principles, and thus Objectivism may be said to advocate a foundationalist epistemology.

    This isn’t quite true. Objectivist epistemology is in a sense “foundationalist” in that it takes sense perceptions are primaries, but the axioms aren’t taken some kind of prerequisite of knowledge.

    In fact, Rand only gets around to discussing axiomatic concepts in Chapter 6 in IOE, and there she makes it clear that the actual identification of an axiomatic concept requires an already sufficiently rich repository of knowledge.

    Before then, she discusses how concepts are formed, and even addresses the “concepts are understood through propositions which are made of concepts, therefore no hierarchial structure is possible” objection by noting that certain concepts that subsume primary perceptions, sensations and axiomatic concepts require ostensive definitions.

  21. Eric said

    Objectivism’s axioms are not thought to be *prerequisites* of knowledge, I agree (and said so in my last post), but they are required in the *justification* of knowledge (“An axiom is a statement that identifies the base of knowledge”), and foundationalism is about just this — justification. Foundationalist epistemologies take a two-tier approach to the structure of justification: some instances are non-inferential (foundational), while all others are inferential (non-foundational). Rand’s axiomatic concepts are in this sense foundational since they are non-inferential (they are non-inferential because they cannot be analyzed, require no proof, and require no explanation — Peikoff says, “One knows that the axioms are true not by inferences of any kind, but by sense perception”).

    With respect to the notion that “the actual identification of an axiomatic concept requires an already sufficiently rich repository of knowledge,” I would say, well, this is necessarily true of any foundationalist epistemology, and does not in any way contradict the notion that Objectivism’s epistemology is foundationalist.

  22. Nate T. said

    Rand’s axiomatic concepts are in this sense foundational since they are non-inferential (they are non-inferential because they cannot be analyzed, require no proof, and require no explanation …

    Ah, I see– I think we’re discussing this cross purposes. Rand discusses a “hierarchy of knowledge” as a collection of concepts resting on basic concepts formed by abstracting perceptions and building more complicated concepts out of those simpler concepts from there.

    I’m not trying to claim anything about an analogous structure of beliefs which begin with basic beliefs like “existence exists” and work their way down to her beliefs about esthetics. However, if you were to phrase things in those terms, you’re right in that “existence exists” would certainly be one of those “basic beliefs” postulated by foundationalism, in that the idea of “proof” really doesn’t apply to it.

  23. Ergo said

    My very limited readings into Plantinga’s Foundationalism gives me the impression that foundationalist premises need not be axioms or irreducible statements derived from sense perception that count as “basic beliefs.”

    Any basic belief can be accepted as a starting point upon which to construct a epistemological sytem or theory, this could even include a basic belief from dogma, revelation, or religion. In that sense, as far as I know, Platinga started with the basic statement that belief in a God is a “basic belief” and therefore requires no proof or justification. He called it “reformed epistemology”. I call it “adamant epistemology.”

  24. Ergo said

    P.S. In that sense, Objectivism couldn’t be farther from Foundationalism.

  25. Eric said

    Plantinga’s foundationalism is one of many different foundationalist approaches (in fact, Plantinga is a critic of traditional foundationalism). See my post above for the essential elements of fouindationalist epistemologies.

  26. Ergo,
    First – mea cukpa – I mis-typed “Axiom of Consciousness’. In my own (weak) defense, it was about 1 am.

    You didn’t actually use Kantian concepts; the Kantian refutation of the Ontological argument was, essentially, “existence is not a property”. You argued that ‘the property of existence is not necessarily superior to non-existence so there is no imperative for a possible existence to occur’. Minor, but important, differences. But since you claim that Kant refuted the Ontological Argument, I spoke of Kant.

    If you want to read the best classic take-down of Kant’s attempted refutation, I suggest Hegel.

    Did your humor meter get damaged? The ‘will supporting Kant get you, etc.’ statement was humor.

  27. should be retitled:

    serving faith in [more]reasonable doses [not in this blog as planned]

    thats a lot of servings chief!?!!

    slán go foill

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