Reason, Being, Non-Being, & Ontological Cul-de-sacs

Reason & Being & Non-Being:

“Reason Itself” in the sense of mirroring the “classical theism” phrase of, “Being Itself” is helpful here in several ways. First, a brief definition of “classical theism” in case that is unfamiliar:

“Classical theism is the conception of God that has prevailed historically within Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Western philosophical theism generally. Its religious roots are biblical, and its philosophical roots are to be found in the Neoplatonic and Aristotelian traditions. Among philosophers it is represented by the likes of Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Maimonides, and Avicenna…..” (E. Feser)

Too often these discussions end up with our Non-Theist friends landing on top of the “equivalent” of, say, denying the reality of gravity on the grounds that disagreement about G exists. But we all share in, live in, move in, and find our very being morphed by, Gravity — segue — the universal and necessary transcendentals one must expunge in order to remain within Non-Theism on the grounds of “disagreement” are in the end far too costly.

“…if I believed about God what the atheist believes about God, I wouldn’t believe in God either. So to be induced to somehow change my mind about belief in God…. I would have to accept the atheist’s misunderstanding of what God is…” (J. Black)

We find there that The Argument From Reason or the related theme along similar lines with “The Rationalist Proof” (…see Five Proofs of The Existence of God at http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2017/08/five-proofs-is-out.html ..) is widely accessible and centuries old. Two other reviews of the content there are in a. Evidence for God: Rationality (The Argument From Reason) – by T. Gilson at https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/02/evidence-god-rationality-argument-from-reason/ and also b. Evidence for God: Argument From Reason Redux – by T. Gilson at https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/03/evidence-for-god-argument-from-reason-redux/

Within that same body of premises we come upon The Divine Mind, or Reason Itself, or The Divine Intellect. On the latter there is E. Feser’s content at http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-divine-intellect.html which offers context. C.S. Lewis provides an interesting segue as it relates to the fact that there are differences between reason on the one hand and disagreement on the other hand:

“As I have said, there is no such thing (strictly speaking) as human reason: but there is emphatically such a thing as human thought — in other words, the various specifically human conceptions of Reason, failures of complete rationality, which arise in a wishful and lazy human mind utilizing a tired human brain. The difference between acknowledging this and being skeptical about Reason itself is enormous. For in the one case we should be saying that reality contradicts Reason, whereas now we are only saying that total Reason — cosmic or super-cosmic Reason — corrects human imperfections of Reason. Now correction is not the same as mere contradiction. When your false reasoning is corrected you ‘see the mistakes’: the true reasoning thus takes up into itself whatever was already rational in your original thought. You are not moved into a totally new world; you are given more and purer of what you already had in a small quantity and badly mixed with foreign elements. To say that Reason is objective is to say that all our false reasonings could in principle be corrected by more Reason. I have to add ‘in principle’ because, of course, the reasoning necessary to give us absolute truth about the whole universe might be (indeed, certainly would be) too complicated for any human mind to hold it all together or even to keep on attending. But that, again, would be a defect in the human instrument, not in Reason.” (Lewis, C. S., Christian Reflections)

Feser observes (… http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/07/road-from-atheism.html ..) similar distinctions:

“…Of course, there are those whose heads and hearts are so out of sync that they cannot follow both at the same time.  But we shouldn’t mistake this pathology for an insight into human nature…”

Often, not always, but often enough to prompt this brief paragraph, it is the case that many of our Non-Theist (A-Theist) friends are, when it comes to being, quick to trade away permanence in their paradigm when it comes to the moral, whereas very few are so bold when facing the argument from reason and/or the rationalist proof. And for good reason (no pun intended). The inevitable shipwreck suffered by trading away permanence in the paradigm of metaphysical naturalism when it comes to reason is just too costly. Why? Because at that juncture it becomes evident that while they have been forced to leave “Being Itself” on the table, they have, by their own hand, stripped reason away from it (…away from being – away from “Being Itself”…) such that we find that reason “is” what it always has been in metaphysical naturalism, which is no-thing, as in non-being. Non-Theism is intrinsically anti-reason with respect to “being”. That is to say that Non-Theism just is Non-Reason.

Ontological Cul-De-Sacs & Bobbles & Bubbles:

As just discussed we find that, at some ontological seam somewhere, the end of reason itself is finally forced and that lands the entire Non-Theistic attempt NOT in the convertibility of the necessary transcendentals with respect to its own being but, rather, in the illusory shadows of non-being.

YET our Non-Theist friends “attempt” to live and move and find their very being within the metaphysical absurdity of the “ontological cul-de-sac”. But why are such cul-de-sacs or bubbles of self-contained systems a problem? Most obvious, there is only ONE and there can be only ONE “Totality”, only ONE “Metaphysic” (…whatever it is…) and to propose more than one, or less than one, is a move which is rationally rejected. Adding “Layers” and/or “Universes” and/or “Fields” does not, and cannot, change the sum of Totality. The fundamental nature of Reality – or of Totality – or of Nature – or of “Actuality’s Actual Substratum” (so to speak).

YET our Non-Theist friends speak and reason “As-If” reality can in fact be made up of all sorts of little ontological histories all floating in midair, like so many bubbles, all disconnected from one another. There’s “morality” and its little ontological history or bubble floating over “there” all disconnected from these other bubbles over “here”, and, to continue the theme, there is, say, “rationality” and its little ontological history or bubble, and then there is “biology” and there is “flourishing” and there is “better” and there is “worse” and there is “intentionality” and there is “cosmology” and there is “ontology” and there’s “philosophy” – and so on – each like so many bubbles, each with its own little ontological history, each floating over “there” but not “here”, each all disconnected from one another, each its own Ontic-Bubble and each defined “as-if” its own ontological history of actualizing / becoming gets along just fine – sort of – somehow – all on its own and all by itself, metaphysically immune to the concrete furniture of “Reality” vis-à-vis Totality – tucked neatly away down the street and around the corner in a logical impossibility termed Ontological Cul-De-Sac.

Reality’s Concrete Furniture:

The well-spoken and insightful Non-Theist and Physicist Sean Carroll (… https://www.preposterousuniverse.com …) alludes to these “layers” of syntax in his Big Picture (…Poetic Naturalism and so on…) as he unpacks the How and the Why of what ends up being his nominalism through and through.  All but one layer are useful but not true (…not concrete or real with respect to reality’s fundamental nature…), all but one layer are not actually real with respect to reality’s concrete furniture. Why? Because in so many words and from another perspective we observe convergence as Carroll unfolds the problem of Ontological Cul-De-Sacs, Bubbles, and Bobbles. From this other perspective of his the convergence lands in the realization that the metaphysical naturalist’s “Map” that is “Physics – Full Stop” comes to the end of itself and at that juncture one cannot just invent new layers of “reality” for the simple reason that, by force of logical necessity, there are no such things as metaphysical / ontological cul-de-sacs. All of that is simply to say that reality does not work that way. Just the same, again but from this other perspective, there can only be ONE Metaphysic.

It is there at that juncture or seam where the question of “Reason” and “Being” presses in. At a certain “Y” in the road it will be all the syntax of G-O-D or else it will be the illusory knot of equivocations in a slow but inevitable slide into negation, contradiction, and the final reductio ad absurdum (…a final absurdity…).

Bobbles and Bubbles:

Trading away being with respect to reason with respect to Metaphysical Naturalism’s concrete furniture merely to gain a Bobble in a reduction to absurdity is an option. Why our Non-Theist friends are quick to trade-away, to follow what must be that downward arrow into the illusory vis-à-vis the absurd rather than being quick to trade-into, to follow what must be that upward arrow into the beauty of lucidity is not merely unclear, is not merely the innocence of the agnostic, but it is (initially) inexplicable and (finally) irrational.

The doxastic experience (…the noetic frame, the nature of belief and knowing, and etc…) is not “just” the rational mind but is also impacted by other elements within our state of mind and within our nature. Truth/Reason does not ultimately refuse us but, rather, we ultimately refuse Truth/Reason. That is to simply state the obvious, that we are free to knowingly trade away the necessary transcendentals of logical lucidity (…and for completeness let us add love’s ceaseless reciprocity…) in order to gain a bobble named Reductio ad Absurdum, and, also, we are free to do otherwise.

Atemporal, Temorpal, Eternalism, Presentism

a. http://disq.us/p/1w4283r and also b. http://disq.us/p/1w40gqv

Retorsion, Perception, Evidence, & Proofs of God

a. http://disq.us/p/1w3dmo7 and also b. http://disq.us/p/1ubrjk9

Freedom, Illusion, Emergence, & Necessity

a. http://disq.us/p/1w4ue31 and also b. http://disq.us/p/1w3m9x8

Heart vs. Head:

The following excerpt is from The Road From Atheism (.. http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/07/road-from-atheism.html ..) and adds context to the discussion of evidence, reason, and the doxastic experience:

“….I don’t mean the New Atheist types, always on the hunt for some ad hominem nugget that will excuse them from having to take the actual arguments of the other side seriously.  (God Himself could come down from on high and put before such people an airtight ontological proof of His existence while parting the Red Sea, and they’d still insist that what really motivated these arguments was a desire to rationalize His moral prejudices.  And that their own continued disbelief was just a matter of, you know, following the evidence where it leads.)

No, I’m talking about a certain kind of religious believer, the type who’s always going on about how faith is really a matter of the heart rather than the head, that no one’s ever been argued into religion, etc.  It will be said by such a believer that my change of view was too rationalistic, too cerebral, too bloodless, too focused on a theoretical knowledge of the God of the philosophers rather than a personal response to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

But the dichotomy is a false one, and the implied conception of the relationship between faith and reason not only foolish but heterodox.  As to the heterodoxy and foolishness of fideism, and the correct understanding of the relationship of faith and reason, I have addressed that set of issues in a previous post.  As to the “heart versus head” stuff, it seems to me to rest on an erroneous bifurcation of human nature.  Man is a unity, his rationality and animality, intellect and passions, theoretical and moral lives all ultimately oriented toward the same end.  That is why even a pagan like Aristotle knew that our happiness lay in “the contemplation and service of God,” whose existence he knew of via philosophical argumentation.  That is why Plotinus could know that we “forget the father, God” because of “self-will.”  While the pagan may have no access to the supernatural end that only grace makes possible, he is still capable of a natural knowledge of God, and will naturally tend to love what he knows.

As Plotinus’s remark indicates, that does not mean that the will does not have a role to play.  But that is true wherever reason leads us to a conclusion we might not like, not merely in matters of religion.  And once you have allowed yourself to see the truth that reason leads you to, what reason apprehends is (given the convertibility of the transcendentals) as good and beautiful as it is real.  If you find yourself intellectually convinced that there is a divine Uncaused Cause who sustains the world and you in being at every instant, and don’t find this conclusion extremely strange and moving, something that leads you to a kind of reverence, then I daresay you haven’t understood it.  Of course, there are those whose heads and hearts are so out of sync that they cannot follow both at the same time.  But we shouldn’t mistake this pathology for an insight into human nature.

Speaking for myself, anyway, I can say this much.  When I was an undergrad I came across the saying that learning a little philosophy leads you away from God, but learning a lot of philosophy leads you back.  As a young man who had learned a little philosophy, I scoffed.  But in later years and at least in my own case, I would come to see that it’s true.”

Reference Frame:

Though not the topic here, a brief comment that both Presentism and Eternalism arrive on scene through contingent reference frames and the troubles that so many run into is the error of stopping too soon. To define one’s T.O.E. by mutable and contingent frames of reference is ultimately irrational.  Should one push onward and outward one will find that logical necessity forces our hand into The Absolute’s Own Frame of Reference — as per https://www.metachristianity.com/absolute-reference-frame-pure-act-incarnation-time/

This post is an excerpt from https://www.metachristianity.com/atheism-world-flat-none-non-non-theist/ which is Atheism: The World is Flat – The None, the Non-, the Non-Theist 

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment