On 2/20/07, Tom Caylor <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
>
>
> On Feb 19, 7:00 pm, "Stathis Papaioannou" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> > On 2/20/07, Tom Caylor <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> >
> > > On Feb 19, 4:00 pm, "Stathis Papaioannou" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> > > > On 2/20/07, Tom Caylor <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> >
> > > > > These are positivist questions.  This is your basic error in this
> > > > > whole post (and previous ones).  These questions are assuming that
> > > > > positivism is the right way of viewing everything, even ultimate
> > > > > meaning (at least when meaning is said to be based on God, but not
> > > > > when meaning is said to be based on ourselves).
> >
> > > > > Tom
> >
> > > > Can you explain that a bit further? I can understand that personal
> > > meaning
> > > > is not necessarily connected to empirical facts. The ancient Greeks
> > > believed
> > > > in the gods of Olympus, built temples to them, wrote songs about
> them,
> > > and
> > > > so on. They provided meaning to the Greeks, and had an overall
> positive
> > > > effect on Greek society even though as a matter of fact there
> weren't
> > > any
> > > > gods living on Mount Olympus. Just as long as we are clear about
> that.
> >
> > > > Stathis Papaioannou
> >
> > > It is a given that whatever belief we have falls short of the set of
> > > all truth.  But here we are talking about different "theories" behind
> > > beliefs in general.  Positivism is one such "theory" or world view.
> > > This problematic type of world view in which positivism falls has also
> > > been referred to as "rationalism in a closed system".  In such a world
> > > view there is no ultimate meaning.  All meaning is a reference to
> > > something else which is in turn meaningless except for in reference to
> > > yet something else which is meaningless.  We can try to hide this
> > > problem by putting the end of the meaning dependency line inside each
> > > individual person's 1st person point of view.  At that point, if we
> > > claim that we still have a closed system, then we have to call the 1st
> > > person point of view meaningless.  Or, if we at that point allow an
> > > "open system", then we can say that the 1st person point of view has
> > > meaning which comes from where-we-know-not.  This is just as useless
> > > as the meaningless view (in terms of being meaningful ;).  This is all
> > > opposed to the world view which allows an ultimate source of meaning
> > > for persons.  If there were such an ultimate source of meaning for
> > > persons, then, even though our beliefs would fall short of the full
> > > truth of it, it makes sense that there would be some way of "seeing"
> > > or discovering the truth in a sort of progressive or growing process
> > > at the personal level.  Gotta go.
> >
> > > Tom
> >
> > I don't see how ultimate meaning is logically possible (if it is even
> > desirable, but that's another question). What is God's ultimate meaning?
> If
> > he gets away without one or has one from where-we-know-not then how is
> this
> > different to the case of the individual human? Saying God is infinite
> > doesn't help because we can still ask for the meaning of the whole
> infinite
> > series. Defining God as someone who *just has* ultimate meaning as one
> of
> > his attributes is a rehash of the ontological argument.
> >
> > Stathis Papaioannou
> >
>
> Ultimate meaning is analogous to axioms or arithmetic truth (e.g. 42
> is not prime).  In fact the famous quote of Kronecker "God created the
> integers" makes this point.  I think Bruno takes arithmetic truth as
> his ultimate source of meaning.  If you ask the same positivist
> questions of arithmetic truth, you also have the same problem.  The
> problem lies in the positivist view that there can be no given truth.
>
> Tom


This is indeed related to the ontological argument, first formulated by
Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century: We say that God is a being than
which nothing more perfect can be imagined. If God did not exist, then we
can imagine an entity just like God, but with the additional attribute of
existence - which is absurd, because we would then be imagining something
more perfect than that than which nothing more perfect can be imagined.
Therefore, God the most perfect being imaginable must necessarily have
existence as one of his attributes. Versions of the argument from first
cause and the argument from design also reduce to the ontological argument,
answering the question "who made God?" with the assertion that God exists
necessarily, with no need for the creator/designer (or, you might add,
external source of meaning) that the merely contingents things in the
universe need.

The problem with defining God in this way as something which necessarily
exists is that you can use the same trick to conjure up anything you like:
an "existent pink elephant" can't be non-existent any more than a bachelor
can be married. This objection pales a little if we admit that imagined
existence (i.e Platonia and the conscious computations therein) is all the
existence there is, but I am not sure that you would be happy with this
explanation as despite the Kronecker quote (which I always understood as
rhetorical anyway) mathematical truths are beyond even God's power to
change.

Stathis Papaioannou

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