Bruno, list,

The most that I can say about responding so lengthily to Bruno's lengthy 
response to my lengthy comment, is that I've kept it in one post!

[Ben]>> Bruno, list,
>> I've looked over Bruno's recent replies and, though I don't understand much 
>> about Bruno's work or modal logic, etc., I wish to attempt a few general 
>> remarks.
>> If Bruno is, as he puts it, "[searching for] a general name for a field 
>> which studies fundamental type of faith, hope, fear, bets, etc.," then there 
>> are set of Ancient Greek words like _pistis_ (faith, belief, confidence), 
>> _pistos_ (confident, faithful), _pisteuticos_ (deserving of faith or 
>> belief), etc. So he could call it Pistics (sounds awful in English, though, 
>> because of that to which it sound similar) or Pisteutics, etc. Or maybe 
>> there's some form of this word with a prefix which would make it sound less 
>> like, well, um, "piss" plus a suffix, and, having considered it, I do think 
>> that that's an issue. Ancient Greek is too unfamiliar to me, otherwise I'd 
>> try to come up with such a word myself, keeping in mind the next paragraph:

[Bruno:]> Well thanks. Pistology perhaps? I must say I like to use already 
existing terms, but I am still trying to understand why people seems so 
negative for the term "theology" ... I do think, perhaps unmodestly, that my 
approach belongs to the Classical Platonic Theology from Pythagoras to Proclus. 
(Of course Pythagoras comes before Plato but can be considered as its one of 
its main important precursor.)

Pistology or some longer word. Actually I'm surprised that a word like this 
doesn't already exist. Searching on the 'Net, I find that the World Congress of 
Faiths has coined a word "fideology." (I'm not religious and I've never heard 
of them.) . I'll bet they 
entertained the coinage "pistology" and rejected it in favor of "fideology" 
even though "fideology" is a Latin-Greek combo. Evidence that "pistology" might 
be better off with some euphonious prefix.

Fideology is the study and practice of faith as trust.   There are many 
misleading arguments about faith.   Millions would say it is belief in God.  

FIDEOLOGY points out the difference between faith and belief.  (see FAITH AND 
BELIEF by W. Cantwell Smith).   Faith is trust.  While millions do not have a 
theology, to be human is to practice trust.  

They're talking about trust among people, as trust, credit, etc. It's not alien 
to the subject of faith in God, though there is a certain tension there. See 
Melville's _The Confidence Man: His Masquerade_

One of the problems with using the word "theology" is that you don't seem to 
have been mentioning God or gods. So, unless you're planning to focus the 
subject ultimately on God or gods, I'd suggest that the field's name focus on 
that which you say it would be focused -- faith. It would be a study of faith 
just as epistemology is a study of knowledge. If you're interested in something 
more similar to an ontology, i.e., interested more in the subject matter of 
faith than in faith itself, then maybe "Pisteutics," a study of that which is 
worth believing in, having faith in.

[Ben]>> What kind of belief? The focus in religion and theology on faith, 
belief, etc., seems (e.g., in "Credo quia absurdum") to arise from a 
stubbornness in the belief despite resultant seemingly contradictory or 
inadequate interpretations and understandings, and despite seemingly 
contradictory or inadequate confirmations, corroborations, knowledge 
("knowledge" in the everyday sense).

[Bruno]> Even just with the quantum hyp., or more deeply (I think) with just 
the comp hyp. I would say that we can say the same things about the notion of 
matter, or the notion of a primitive or primordial universe.
> ... Except that it is far more "easier" (cf UDA) to explain the 
> epistemological contradictory nature of "matter" than of "God", which I take 
> as being PERHAPS just a more general notion of reality, like our common (with 
> comp) unnameable ignorance, or even the Platonico-Aristotelian notion of 
> Self, etc.
> Today's physics take for granted implicitly a major part of Aristotle 
> theology: the religious idea of Nature, and the idea of linking souls to 
> bodies in some one-one manner.

[Ben] >> This is a special kind of belief, not the most general kind, and we 
tend to distinguish it in English by calling it "faith" though "faith" does 
have other meanings. It tends to be motivated by valuations not pertaining 
primarily to investigating and establishing the character of the world. For 
Bruno, the question is, does he mean a kind of belief which, howsoever 
motivated, is stubborn? (in the face of resultant contradictory or inadequate 
understandings and in the face of contradictory "knowledge" or inadequate 
knwledge). For what it's worth, I think that the name most suitable will have 
the meaning of this kind of belief.

[Bruno]> You don't need to be stubborn to belief (or hope) in God, especially 
if you are willing to take seriously pre-christian theology. Of course if uou 
define God by a white male senior sitting on a cloud, it seems to me reasonable 
to suppose some level of stubbornness indeed.

Yes, I think I over-emphasized the stubbornness aspect. It seems to me that you 
should NOT give up the theme of rationality, reasonableness, reasoning, and 
inference merely because you get into an area of lack of deductive provability. 
There are other kinds of reasoning and inference, which are quite pertinent to 
people's holding of beliefs which they can't deductively prove. I'll get to 
that further down.

As regards God and gods, they seem so abstract in the forms in which they may 
be implicit in your discussion, that you don't mention them explicitly, so far 
as I've seen. The meat of your subject matter seems to be something else.

[Ben]>> Are religion and theism just about belief? Maybe I'm wrong, because 
there's a lot of background here on the everything-list threads that I don't 
understand, so maybe I'm interpreting things in the wrong light, but there 
seems to be a tendency here to regard religion as if it were fundamentally a 
cognitive discipline -- as if it consisted in a set of cognitive beliefs about 

[Bruno]> Not at all. I would say the driving force is just truth, or even 
> Then the theology of machine is entirely dependant of the gap between proof 
> and truth, which you can seen as a gap between cognitive ability and the 
> Truth.
> Perhaps I am just talking in a premature way, and I should explain more on 
> the Godel-Lob provability-truth gap (G* \ G).
> Note that the "Truth About-a-Lobian-Machine" is an unnameable notion BY the 
> lobian machine, and it verifies my favorite axiom of "..."  which is that it 
> has no name.
> Note that I am not identifying God with Truth or with the Self. But in the 
> whole family of Platonic thought, such notion are frequently related.

I think it would be better to stick with that which is commonly observable 
about religion and theistic beliefs. Your consideration of religion in the 
context of theoretical issues into which religious people have inquired, 
results in an excessively foreshortened picture of religion in its fuller 
aspects. Religions tend to make plenty of claims about truth. But, despite all 
the argumentation and evidential claims which one may find within and among 
religions, they are not structured as processes of investigation, the ongoing 
renovation and occasional redesign of supports, checks, and balances of 
evidence and reason. Religions are not particularly fallibilistic or 
self-correcting. They're not, to put it in a soundbyte, a discipline of 
cognition with regard to cognition. 

I mean, by that soundbyte, that religions are not the learning and knowing in 
or on what light or basis one learns or knows something, or, what amounts to 
the same thing, the learning and knowing about things in or on whose light or 
basis one comes to know many more things. They are instead a process of a kind 
of valuing by what power one attempts, seeks, chooses, and adheres to things. 
(They aren't the only kind of such valuing, which also includes many a 
non-religious ism.) Boiling it down to soundbytes: Affectivity with regard to 
volition. Not cognition with regard to cognition. And that's even though both 
religion and research deeply involve all dimensions of mind, cognitive, 
affective, competential, volitional, etc. Religions value with regard to the 
issue of what is the right might, the morally or religiously good might, to 
exert or obey. What is good (vital, to be valued) and strong (dynamic, whereby 
we move, act, choose). The issue, the question of what is the right !
 might -- this is not in the sense of theoretical or experimental inquiry into 
the truth about such matters, but in the sense of deliberate choice, thought, 
word, and deed, the being it and doing it. Maths and sciences are generally not 
aimed in such a way at goodness or strength but at truth, truth, truth, even 
though, as if in reflection of the larger pattern, a mathematical structure is 
desirably "strong," "beautiful" like a strong horse as Steven Weinberg said, a 
seminal and hardly resistable force -- while an empirical scientific structure 
is desirably solid as a rock, a hardly movable object -- etc. These delicately 
distinctive patterns brought me to be interested in Tegmark's four-level 
Multiverse, though I'm darned if I can see how to work them in, in order to 
bring this discussion back to more topicality for the everything list.

Some religious folks sometimes reduce various fields of endeavor into so many 
"religions." Worldview foreshortening, captured so well by Saul Steinberg's 
famous 1976 New Yorker magazine cover "The View from 9th Avenue" is something to which 
we are all liable, whether we are religiously or otherwise, e.g., 
scientifically, oriented in our various viewpoints and familiar turfs. Religion 
does not really seek the same things as science seeks and each will tend to 
chide and decry the other to the extent that each sees the other as a distorted 
and perhaps misled version of itself.

It's not really what is commonly observable about religion, that it is a 
"pursuit after truth" in the sense in which maths and sciences are, but people 
sometimes "foreshorten" it into seeming so. It is closer to education, 
community planning, and to some extent architecture and design, the "ruling" or 
governing arts -- except that these are not fundamentally institutions of 
valuings with regard to decision-making, but are disciplines of cognition, 
particularly conceptions, objectifications, with regard to decision-making and 
with regard to the powers whereby one moves and acts. Their works are the 
singular and custom-tailored embodiments of those conceptions. They often 
embody religious, ethical, and political valuings but are not definable as the 
class of institutions of such valuings.

[Ben]>> Religion has been many things and in some societies has taken many 
forms in being involved in every aspect of life. But the core toward which it 
seems sometimes to retrench, seems to be affectivity and valuing with regard to 
decision-making, power, submission, governance and self-governance -- including 
valuing with regard to the greatest powers in one's life and in the universe.

[Bruno]> Science too, including affectivity, at least in practice.

Of course science includes affectivity, gets involved in various kinds of 
valuing, and in every aspect of life in some societies. Ideally science very 
much embodies the love of knowledge, it embodies curiosity, rigorisms, 
standards of evidence, standards about what is worth knowing, etc., etc. 
Likewise, productive arts and sciences embody affectivity and valuing -- there 
is no know-how without care-how. (It's a shame that Aristotle didn't write a 
hikanotetics, a treatise on "care-how," valuings about competence, along with 
his ethics & politics, his aesthetics and discussions of eudaemonia, and his 
discussion(s) of love of knowledge.)

But it does not follow that maths and science, as such, _are_ the love of 
knowledge, any more than the productive arts & sciences _are_ care-how, 
perfectionisms of various kinds, the "adequatisms" which many of us actually 
embrace in many areas, work ethic, work pride, respect for value-for-value, 
etc., etc. Rorty, for instance, fails to recognize and appreciate that, among 
the things which math & science contribute to society, is love of knowledge, 
truth, etc., the valuing of proof, (dis)confirmation, evidence, standards of 
evidence, and so forth. Yet maths and sciences embody such things, without 
being the selfsame thing as all those things. For those things are broader 
movements and institutions in society, and innocent defendants in court are 
among those who certainly hope so.

[Ben]>> (All the same, I fully admit that religion can get involved quite 
widely, in valuings with regard to competence and work, and with regard to 
feelings and gratifications, and with regard to cognition and knowledge -- and, 
also, it can get involved in a variety of cognitively based disciplines with 
regard to those just-listed subjects, so as to influence, e.g., education and 
community planning, productive arts, affective arts {painting, literature, 
music, drama, cinema, etc., etc.} and, among the maths and sciences, cosmology, 
as well; and religion can get involved in the arenas -- political, economic, 
cultural, discussional, and in non-conflictual practices of corresponding 

[Ben]>> Why do we associate religion especially with stubborn beliefs and 
certain disputed issues of fact?

[Bruno]> Because in our civilisation religion has been jeopardised by the state 
and politics.  From something which is supposed to free your mind, it has 
become a tool for manipulating anybody. But this for me  is a reason to come 
back to the original questioning and faith/hope, and then the comp theology 
(G*) can explain why the "Truth" can only be find in ourselves, and why the 
Lobian machine is 100% allergic to any form of authoritative argument.

Response further down.

[Ben]>> At the core of most of those things which we'd call religion in the 
strict sense, the sense in which the word "religion" is usually meant when the 
context is vague, are claims of miracles, miraculous powers in impassioned 
settings. Civilization tends to ask of religion that it renounce compulsion, 
tampering and interference, and provocation, but has tended in some cases to 
leave the improbable unsupported claims about facts more or less alone.

[Bruno]> Well, I do agree, except that this is not really theology or religion, 
it is "theology or religion" betrayed by "politicians" in the context of a 
complex human history.
[Bruno]> Imagine a country-civilisation where anyone daring to say that the 
diagonal of a square is incommensurable with the sides of that square is exiled 
if not tortured, and this during centuries. I can imagine people being tired 
with the very idea of mathematics, but is that a reason to abandon mathematics, 
or even the term "mathematics"? I would say such an abandon would be a victory 
for the dishonest manipulating politicians.

You're removing the words from their typical meanings. You're setting up for 
people to misunderstand you when you use the words without your above 
qualifications rigidly accompanying them like the product information found on 
many packaged consumer goods. You can do it, but your complaints about the 
results won't be taken seriously. After all, you will have labeled it 
"theology" and it doesn't seem theological. It seems epistemological and 
"pistological." You'll have made a pitch for the attention of people interested 
in theology, you'll disappoint them and, at the same time, give to others the 
notion that you wish to present yourself as less interested in scientific 
inquiry than in religiously-purposed conceptions, judgments, extrapolations, 
and reasonings about God. And both these sets of people will have justifiably 
misunderstood what you're interested in, since you yourself will have called it 

Moreover, different tribes, countries, and historical periods have had vastly 
different experiences with religions, governments, and their conflicts, 
collaborations, joinings, and checkings-&-balancings. Unless you want your 
theoretical expositions to get bogged down in strident arguments about 
sociology and to be summarily ignored by many of your presumably desired 
audience -- all for the sake of using a word differently from its established 
acceptation -- you're better off using words in their common acceptations and 
referring to things as they are commonly observed to be, rather than what you 
hold the words should mean and the things should be as in some ideal world.

[Ben] >> For one thing, many of us who are not religious tend to recognize that 
we really don't know much about religion and society, we really don't know that 
much about how religion may be needed in society -- we look at all the bloody 
religious history and at all the civilizing influence which major religions 
have exerted as well and don't know quite what to make of it all. Those of us 
who live far from academic communities are well aware that religion has roles 
in filling gaps in in the everyday lives of many around us. That's us 
non-religious types. Most people in civilization are more or less religious. 
Anyway, this variously hesitant, ambivalent, and belligerent confrontation with 
religion's ill supported claims about facts may tend to create the impression 
among some that this is what religion is about -- those cognitive beliefs 
standing unconquered by, and outside of and sometimes opposed to, science.

[Bruno]> The idea I would like to develop is that G is (self) -science, G* is 
(self)-theology. At least G* warns us that if we put G* in science, that would 
make us inconsistent, and that would lead us to many problems, most probably of 
the bloody type.

I'm not sure what you mean by "putting G* in science" -- claiming that science 
has learned G*? Claiming that science can learn G*? Anyway, if G* is some 
beliefs that are not deductively provable, but which suit experience in 
general, help bring order to it, and can be reasonably inferred to be true by 
ampiative induction, then some would just call G* philosophy and leave the 
subclassification as "pistology" or whatever for later. Theology is not usually 
considered a department of philosophy. Philosophy has already been down some 
roads of anti-ultimatism in knowledge.  C.S. Peirce said, that truth is such 
that the truth of any given matter would be inevitably be reached by sufficient 
research, but that such inevitability does _not_ attach to you or me or any 
_finite_ community of researchers. Some of the anti-ultimatism roads, including 
"pragmatism," which Peirce disowned, have helped pave the way to relativism and 
the belief that belief is justified by its contributing tacti!
 cally or strategically to "correct" political outcomes. No matter which way 
you turn, traps await -- which is not to say that no roads are better or worse.

Deductive provability has limits, but there are other kinds of inference. Your 
planned field of reasonable but not deductively provable beliefs could retain 
your concern with reasoning and inference by taking ampliative induction for a 
theme -- what one might call "qualitative" ampliative induction, not with 
particular reference to qualities or qualia, but instead as distinguished from 
quantitative and spatial, or from inductive generalizations info-theoretic, 
statistical, or inverse-optimizational. I'm trying to avoid cutting to the 
chase and saying "philosophical" because I mean not just philosophers' 
reasonings but the kind of common inferential processes which philosophers have 
sometimes studied. Deductivist prejudices here would merely make perfection the 
enemy of the good and lessen the chance of finding one's way to deductive 
conclusions about such induction in general (I take it that your goal is not to 
become a philosopher or a theologian, but to remain among those !
 whose results are deductive conclusions). Taking ampliative induction as a 
theme would place the field more accessibly to other areas of research, while 
hardly precluding the consideration of ideas from Plato, Plotinus, and so 
forth. In questions, for instance, of fairness, there continually arise 
situations about which the laws are insufficiently specific (unless we are 
trivialistically regulated to death) and in which one must generalize in order 
to land at equitable solutions. This arises also in legislation. What is the 
fairness common to legal justice and equitable solutions? And so one 
generalizes to ideas of fairness which are not deductively provable except from 
assumptions that aren't all deductively firm. And people put a lot of stock in 
them, believe in them, act upon them. (Few claim that fairness is merely 
accordance with the law, and few if any such claimers practice their legalistic 
preachings. Those who do treat fairness as nothing but a social "construct" o!
 ften do not preach such and are also known as sociopaths.)

[Ben]>> But it's not at all everything that religion, or theism, monotheism, 
polytheism, etc. are about. (There is a kind of philosophical "panpsychism" 
which tends to be more cognitive in aim, but that's the exception). And in fact 
the secularist-religious conflicts ongoing today are about all that further 
stuff, and not just about the particular factual issues which sometimes are 
made their arena.

[Bruno]> I think this comes from the use of religion as collective identity 
labels. That is why 99% of religious pseufo-beliefs are just inheritated by 
children from their parents. We got a religion like we got an identity cart 
almost. This is contingent.

You're discussing and deriding that which there is. Howsoever good or bad it 
may be, that's what there is. If you dislike it and are speaking of something 
else, then it is best to call it something else, and then make your arguments 
that it is superior to common religion. This is a matter of saying what you 
mean in terms of the common understanding of your audience. 

Like I say, there's a lot that isn't known or understood about religion, a lot 
that you don't know, I don't know, and every person on this list doesn't know, 
and it's not for us to lightly brush religion aside any more than some 
politicians and some revolutionaries lightly brush aside and seek to undo many 
societal and civilizational institutions.  And since we're talking about 
religion, which is primarily a societal and personal way of life, rather than a 
philosophical doctrine, I don't know what basis you could have for saying that 
its "original" purpose was to "free the mind." Some religions have taken more 
interest in that than have others. There are cults which will more swiftly and 
efficiently get the garbage out of one's head than will any respectable 
religion -- only to replace it with the cult's own garbage. Religion's purpose 
has not solely been to liberate, much less has it been to produce libertarian 
and free-thinking paradise, but instead, observably, to guide, !
 to lead, to _tie_ people into things in various given ways. Religious people 
often have said so. It's in the very etymology of the word "religion." Religion 
has been about submission as well as about power. Some religions and 
religious/spiritual practices are VERY much about submission or subjection, and 
take their names from it.

[Ben]>> So, again, I think that Bruno needs a name that carries the meaning of 
a kind of belief, and not one that just says "God."

[Bruno]> But I just say "theology". Then most people say that "theology" is 
related to God, but I take it as related to Truth, whatever it is.

Problem is, you don't own the word. It isn't yours. Moreover, the word doesn't 
care about you. Science, art, etc., don't care about what you meant to do or 
say. There's what you actually do and say and that's the record. You'll be 
using a word with one meaning in mind, knowingly with an audience which, quite 
justifiably, has another meaning in mind. "Theos" means "God." "Theology" means 
study of God. And theology has indeed taken God as its central theme ever since 
theology began as a distinct and distinctly labeled discipline, hundreds of 
years ago? Well over a thousand years ago? People are rightly accustomed to 
this. You said that using the word "theology" would be in order to be honest. 
Honesty would seem to require that you choose another word. I think that what's 
happening here is that you want to catch and hold the attention of people who 
are interested in theology.

[Bruno]> In Plato it is the science of Gods, and eventually of form of 
transcendence. With the comp hyp, the diagonalizations lead to a precise form 
of transcendence incarnated into the gap between G (provable provability logic) 
and G* (true provability logic). Perhaps I should talk in term of a "toy 
theology", but then, remember it is testable.

I think that you're talking about epistemology and a kind of "pistology." 
Knowledge and belief.

[Ben]>> One added note: "Agnosticism" originally meant holding that it can't be 
known whether God exists -- "un-knowledge-ism".

[Bruno]> I would be interested if you could give me some links or references. I 
was using "agnosticism" in what I think is the modern sense of the world (to 
distinguish it from atheism). Plotinus has been confronted with a sceptical 
school pretending that human cannot pretend to access to true knowledge 
(including possible knowledge of God). That school is called "Gnosticism", 
curiously enough.

Etienne Gilson discussed this, though I don't remember where. It may have been 
in "The Unity of Philosophical Experience." I've also encountered some 
complaining about Roman Catholic philosophers treating the word "agnostic" in 
the "neither-believe-nor-disbelieve" sense as if it had never had another.

I just checked the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
3. Agnosticism
Though there are a couple of references in The Oxford English Dictionary to 
earlier occurrences of the word 'agnostic', it seems (perhaps independently) to 
have been introduced by T. H. Huxley at a party in London to found the 
Metaphysical Society, which flourished for over a decade and to which belonged 
notable thinkers and leaders of opinion. Huxley thought that as many of these 
people liked to describe themseves as adherents of various 'isms' he would 
invent one for himself. He took it from St. Paul's mention of the altar to the 
unknown God in his letter to the Ephesians. Huxley thought that we would never 
be able to know about the ultimate origin and causes of the universe. Thus he 
seems to have been more like a Kantian believer in unknowable noumena than like 
a Vienna Circle proponent of the view that talk of God is not even meaningful. 
Perhaps such a logical positivist should be classified as neither a theist nor 
an atheist, but her view would be just as objectionable !
 to a theist.

Wikipedia, for what it's worth, clarifies what the Stanford said:
Agnosticism is the philosophical view that the truth values of certain 
claims-particularly theological claims regarding the existence of God, gods, or 
deities-are unknown, inherently unknowable, or incoherent, and therefore, (some 
agnostics may go as far to say) irrelevant to life. The term and the related 
agnostic were coined by Thomas Henry Huxley in 1869, and are also used to 
describe those who are unconvinced or noncommittal about the existence of 
deities as well as other matters of religion. 

[Ben]>> It is still used, I think, by some in that sense. Anyway, earlier in 
philosophical and theological traditions it was used in that sense. Many also 
use it to mean that one is simply unsure -- I don't know whether God exists, 
but maybe you do, etc. There one simultanously suspects and doubts that God 
exists, i.e., neither believes nor disbelieves, but has some awareness of the 
question and treats it as suitable for belief-attitudes.

[Bruno]> Yes that's it. And it is transparent with the use of modal logic.
>The "religious" believer:   Bg    (He believes in the existence of God)
>The "atheistic believer":  B~g  (He believes in the non-existence of God)
>The "agnostic":   ~Bg & ~B~g  (He does not believes in the existence of God 
>and he does not believe in the non existence of God).

[Bruno]> Of course in that sense you can be agnostic for many reasons:  because 
you don't care, because you are waiting for more (positive or negative) 
evidences, or because nobody explains you in what sense the term God could 
possibly be used, etc.
> I do think that the scientific attitude is agnostic, not only relatively to 
> God notions, but to anything big, like universe(s), or ... "everything".

There definitely needed to be a word for that, and "agnostic" came closest, and 
that's the most common meaning which it has today.

Best, Ben Udell

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