On Jan 28, 10:35 pm, Brent Meeker <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> Tom Caylor wrote:
> > The question of the "meaning of life", and also the problem of (the
> > existence of) evil (whether you believe in God not), has at its core
> > the question of what is this "non-thing" entity called a "person"?
> > By the way, the problem of evil that I am referring to is simply the
> > problem of the existence of evil.  We just know it exists.  We see
> > people treated as things. We know it is wrong.  The simple existence
> > of evil is a problem.  
> If you don't believe in an omnipotent, benevolent God who orders the universe
> it isn't a problem.  It's just a consequence of different people having 
> competing values.

You are talking about a different "problem of evil" than I am.  You
are using the word "problem" in the sense of a logical contradiction.
I think you saw below that by "the problem of evil" I mean "evil"
itself.  It is something that is more direct and palpable, something
that requires a *person* to be conscious of its existence, rather than
just a mathematical processor cranking out a logical inference.  Evil
*is* the problem.

At the risk of overkill, but I don't want to take any more chances,
let's take an analogy:  weeds on a lawn.  You are looking at the
classical "problem of evil" in the sense that if you believe that a
benevolent and all-powerful gardener is in charge of this lawn, then
(if you narrow the scope of all of the definitions enough) the
existence of weeds is a contradiction.  A mathematical processor could
infer that.  I'm just looking at the weeds themselves, independent of
any gardener, and saying, "This is bad."  Being able to make that
judgment requires a person.

> >I'm not talking about the wrongness of a
> > logical contradiction.  I'm talking about something that is even
> > "wronger than" that.  When I talk about the problem of evil,  I'm
> > talking about something that is *really* wrong, down at the core level
> > of reality.  The reason that something defined by persons (such as a
> > person being treated as a "non-person"
> What it mean to treat a person as a non-person?
> Even Kant's categorical imperative was not to treat a person *only* as a 
> means.
> It's not evil to fail to ask your bank teller how they feel about cashing 
> your check.

This illustrates my point that the core of these problems and
questions is the essence of personhood.

> >) can be "really wrong" at the
> > deepest level is that the essence of a person is something that lies
> > at the deepest level of reality.  
> It's words or concepts that are defined by people.  What people judge as 
> right or wrong seems far from "basic reality" since they so often disagree 
> about it.  

This is my point.  Personhood is at the core of these concepts.  It is
irreducible (personhood, that is).

> >This is why the "problem of evil" in
> > general has been so hard to "figure out".  It's because the very
> > definition of the problem is illusive without defining what a person
> > is.  We try to define the problem by saying evil is a logical
> > contradiction with whatever theory someone has, but this actually only
> > proves even more how lost we are in figuring it out, and even more
> > lost in solving it.
> > In the same way the "meaning of life" question on one hand seems
> > nebulous and unuseful from a scientific viewpoint.  But it is the
> > ultimate question.  We may ask, "What is the meaning of the 'meaning
> > of life'?" But that just illustrates the meaning of the question
> > itself. Perhaps this is one of the attributes of a "person", that we
> > continually, recursively, as the question of meaning.  We just *know*
> > what the meaning is of the question, "What is the meaning of life?"
> > Thus, the essence of what a person is is key to this question, and key
> > to the answer!
> The trouble with "the meaning of life" question is that it implicitly assumes 
> that life has some external referent that gives it meaning, the way "grass" 
> is given a meaning by pointing to grass.  People who ask about the meaning of 
> life usually want something like "the purpose of my life", "what goals should 
> I pursue", etc.  Thus reformulated this has a simple answer, "Whatever you 
> want!".  The problem is that people want their lives to have purpose without 
> providing it themselves.

The question of "the meaning of life" I am referring to is deeper than
a "what" question.  It is a "why" question.  For instance, why is it
that a person is able to somehow create meaning?  At the core is the
essence of personhood.


> Brent Meeker
> "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law"
>       --- motto of the Hellfire Club, B. Franklin, member
> > Now when it comes to mathematical/logical systems, and Bruno's
> > arguments, I think that we can see a "type", or analogy, of what is
> > going on here.  Through arguments that use things such as Church's
> > Thesis, diagonalization, the excluded middle, we can see that there
> > are always some systems or sets which are provably not describable by
> > other systems or sets.  I don't think this ultimately resolves the
> > problem of evil or the meaning of life.  But I do think that it is
> > perhaps a "picture" of the limitlessness that is possible, even
> > necessary.  It shows us the infinite proportions of these problems.  
> > They are intractable by human persons, and yet have at their core the
> > essence of what a person is.
> > Tom

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