Tom Caylor wrote:
> 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.
> Tom

OK.  But in that case your question is just half of the question, "Why do 
people have values?"  If you have values then that mean some things will be 
good and some will be bad - a weed is just a flower in a place you don't want 
it.  You must already know the obvious answer to this given by Darwin.  And it 
doesn't even take a person; even amoebas have values.  I suspect you have a set 
answer in mind and you're looking for the question to elicit it.

Brent Meeker

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