On Wed, Jan 04, 2006 at 12:30:49PM +0100, Bruno Marchal wrote:
> Thanks for giving me your feeling. I obviously agree with you that 
> atheism is a religion. Actually I see this as a reason to keep the word 
> "theology" , although I remain open to the possibility of changing my 
> mind on this issue. I have (G*) reason to consider that just the belief 
> in one Observer-Moment, or World, State, Situation, etc. is already 
> theological, like the hope in our own sanity or consistency. Physics is 
> already theological too; in particular most physicists endow implicitly 
> Aristotle "solution" of the mind-body problem, which is in part a sort 
> of bullet making impossible to really progress there.

You seem to be confusing a study of metaphysical beliefs with a study
of a subset of metaphysical beliefs called the belief in one or more
Gods (which is what theology means to most people). I would not use
the word theology to describe the study of physics' foundational
beliefs - not sure what word I would use actually, it probably an
indication that very few people think about it.

> Also, I think "God" is just a chapter in theology, 

again this seems to be using theology in a more expansive meaning than
it usually is. Theology to me is the study of belief in God, although
I note that the Oxford concise dictionary defines it thusly:

"a study of or system of religion; rational analysis of a religious

Using this definition, the study of Kosher practices would be
considered theology, which doesn't seem right to me. It should come
under the label of cultural studies, or comparative religion perhaps.

> and I don't even 
> address that chapter neither in "Conscience et Mecanisme", where I do 
> introduce the term theology, nor in "Calculabilit? Physique et 
> Cognition", where I have been asked to use "machine psychology" instead 
> of "theology", and then I am  beginning to think it is a sort of 
> "logical" error. Like I said to George, either I try to be as clear as 
> possible, but then it looks provocative; or I try to manage the ten 
> thousands human susceptibilities, but then the message will take more 
> that one millenium to be conveyed :(
> Ah la la..
> One of my current motivation for using the label "theology" is the fact 
> that my work can be framed into the Pythagorean, Platonist and 
> NeoPlatonist tradition.

Indeed, however most people would not regard Pythagoranism, Platonism
et al as a topic of theology. If you insist on using the term, you
will be condemned to defining the word theology so as to include
Pythagoranism etc as part of its domain of study in every paper your write.

Psychology, on the other hand seems unproblematical, as psychology
normally covers belief as part of its remit. About the only real
problem I see with it is those who think machine psychology is an
oxymoron (contradiction of terms). But those same people would think
computationalism is incoherent as well...

On a related point, which I meant to comment on earlier, but ran out
of time. In French and German, there is no distinction between the
words "mind", "soul", "ghost" or "spirit". In French the word "esprit" covers
all these notions, and in German, the words are "Geist" and "Seele". Yet
in English soul as well as ghost/spirit (the latter two being largely
synonymous) imply an independent existence apart from the body,
whereas "mind" has no such connotation. "Soul" tends to be used in a
theological setting, whereas "ghost" appears more in  literature or movies
- "ghost stories" :). But apart from that, I cannot see any obvious

Interestingly in my aforementioned Oxford dictionary, it defines mind
as "seat of consciousness" (def 6.) and "soul" (def 7.) Oh well, maybe
everyday people's understanding of these things is muddied, or perhaps
my usage of these terms is particularly Australian (Australia being
one of the least religious countries in the world)


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A/Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 8308 3119 (mobile)
Mathematics                                    0425 253119 (")
UNSW SYDNEY 2052                         [EMAIL PROTECTED]             
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