Guest Blog by philomonty: Nihilism & Thomism Inferences (i.e. Catholicism)

Nihilism is to Thomism (thus, Catholicism) as Satan is to the court of angels in the Book of Job.

There is an inter-meshing between these contradictory points that rests on logical inference. We might say it as this: Certain nihilist propositions are correct as conditionals; however, being conditionals shows that the contrary conclusion to Nihilism is true.

For a common example through Job, God and Satan essentially wager on this: Satan posits that any man, if taken far enough, will break. A contemporary idiom would be “every man has their price.” Is the proposition true? Per Aquinas, it is (Summa, Q. 109). No man can resist sin for long, without grace; every man has a breaking point without God’s grace.

Now some of you may know that I was once a Nihilist. Even with my Nihilistic mindset, I found Thomism attractive and appealing. Not only could it solve the problems of Nihilism, Thomism did so from Nihilism’s own grounds (both belong to the Western Metaphysical Tradition, after all). Namely, as a Thomist and as a Nihilist, I found grounds on which both agreed: Where they differed was on whether the conditionals and inferences were true or not. Indeed, as a Nihilist, I found that Thomism provided far better clarity on Nihilism itself  than Nihilists did.

With that in mind, I am not here to make a case for Nihilism, but  to draw those who, like I once did, find Nihilism to be true away from it by showing the contrary logical inference; likewise, it would also be able to make a case against Atheism (a kind of Pascalian argument), since it has no safeguards against some of the following propositions (and at times, even embraces them), and that the logical conclusion of Atheism is Nihilism:

 

If there is no God, then there is no human nature (Sartre; ‘Existence precedes Essence’); however, there is human nature, therefore there is a God (Summa Q. 93).

Life possesses meaning insofar as Man’s actions aim toward an end which is the good (Summa).
Life has no meaning, for there is no real ‘good’ to be aimed at, and with which our end is death, which is opposed to any form of ‘the good’ (General Nihilism).

We are imprisoned in ‘nothingness’ (Heidegger).
We are imprisoned by ‘nothingness’ insofar as creatures are considered ‘dark’ insofar as they are from nothing [viz., ex nihilo] (Quaestiones disputatae de Veritas, Aquinas, reply to objection 5).

The proper movement of a being that stems from nothingness is to tend toward nothingness; however, [a being that has] nature has a tendency towards the good, which is the same as being, therefore the proper movement of a being is to existence (Quaestiones disputate de Potentia, Objection 16 and reply to objection 16).

There is no such thing as Love, i.e., Charity, for all actions as such derive from some ulterior motive (General Cynicism).
Only through God can Man come to possess Charity; for Charity is a virtue that surpasses Man’s natural limitations (Summa); likewise, certain actions such as almsdeeds only flow forth through Charity properly, wherein Charitable actions possess materially the virtue of Charity, but not formally, such that these actions proceed from a different source [‘ulterior motive’] of either natural light [‘reason’], fear, or gain (Summa, reply to objection 1).

There is no such thing as morality, for there is no such thing as good and evil, and there is no such thing as good and evil for there is no objective measurement of rule [viz., nature], and all things listed as such are subjective and belong only in reference to those respective references, viz., the measurement of good and evil is respective to each being only (General Nihilism).
The measurement of rule is established through one’s nature, by which when one acts in accordance with it, one acts good, and when one acts against it, one acts in an evil manner (Summa).

Could the universe be anything besides comprehensible?

Could the universe be anything besides comprehensible?

To be comprehensible means to be understandable.
The mind grasps what is comprehended.
If the universe can’t be grasped by our mind, that means what we think we know about the universe isn’t how things are.
All our ideas of how the world work just ain’t so.

Without Providence, there is no reason to think that our beliefs reflect reality.
They could simply model risk properly such that we survive and reproduce.
If that’s the case, the universe isn’t comprehensible.

So it seems clear to me that the universe, in theory, could be incomprehensible.
Is Providence the only thing that can ground comprehensibility?

Meaning Comes From Mind

To be comprehensible is to have meaning that can be grasped by a mind.
As such, meaning has something that grounds its existence.
Let’s define this that grounds meaning as “mind”.
Then there are two options for any meaning in the universe: It comes from human minds, or it comes from other mind.
If it comes from human mind, then we’re not seeing meaning in the universe, but rather playing a game like exquisite corpses, imparting an interpretation of randomness and being fooled by it.

So, if there is meaning to be found in the universe, rather than imbued by our own over-active imaginations, that means that there is an Author, a Creator, which writes that meaning into the universe.

An Outline of Skepticism

Richard H. Popkin at https://www.britannica.com/topic/skepticism. defined Skepticism in western philosophy as “the attitude of doubting knowledge claims set forth in various areas.” Skeptics challenge the adequacy or reliability of these claims by questioning the claims existing knowledge is based upon. Skeptics question whether any such claims really are indubitable or necessarily true. They consistently challenge the purported rational grounds of accepted assumptions. In everyday life, practically everyone is skeptical about some knowledge claims. However philosophical skeptics doubt the possibility of any knowledge beyond that of the contents of directly felt experience.

The original Greek meaning of skeptikos was “an inquirer,” someone who was unsatisfied and still looking for truth. From ancient times till now, skeptics have developed arguments to undermine the contentions of dogmatic philosophers, scientists, and theologians. Those arguments, and their employment against various forms of dogma, have played important roles in shaping both the problems and the solutions offered by western philosophy. As philosophy and science developed, doubts arose about various basic, widely accepted beliefs about the world. In ancient times, skeptics challenged the claims of Plato, Aristotle and their followers, as well as those of the Stoics. During the Renaissance, similar challenges were raised against the claims of Scholasticism and Calvinism. Later skeptics attacked Cartesianism (the system established by René Descartes) and other theories that attempted to justify the scientific revolution initiated by Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo. Later skeptical offensives were leveled against the theories of Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel their followers. Each challenge led to new attempts to resolve the skeptical difficulties. Skepticism, especially since the Enlightenment, has come to mean disbelief-primarily religious disbelief-resulting in the skeptic being likened to the village atheist.

Robert Maynard Hutchins, the dean of Yale Law School, the president of the University of Chicago, and one of the more influential philosophers of education in the 20th century gave a series of lectures in 1951. In those lectures, he identified four intellectual trends that had been absolutely disastrous for modern education. He called these trends “the four horsemen of the philosophical apocalypse.”

“If the object of education is the improvement of men, any system of education that is without values is a contradiction in terms. A system that seeks bad values is bad. A system that denies the existence of values denies the possibility of education. Relativism, scientism, skepticism, and anti-intellectualism, the four horsemen of the philosophical apocalypse, have produced that chaos in education which will end in the disintegration of the West.”

In a January 23, 2017 article Daniel Lattier offered brief descriptions of each of “the four horsemen” and their impact on education:
1) Relativism:
The idea that notions of true and false, right and wrong, are purely subjective. Generally speaking, you can see its impact on education today through the exaltation of “tolerance” as the highest virtue, in addition to the changing of the purpose of education from helping students to pursue truth to the pragmatic goal of making them “college- and career-ready.”
2) Scientism:
The idea that the only true or meaningful knowledge is that gained through science. This has contributed to the significant weakening of the humanities curriculum and the decline of basic reading and writing skills at the expense of STEM education.
3) Skepticism:
For Hutchins, skepticism (related to relativism) referred to the idea that our beliefs are nothing more than “our own moods and humors, or, at the utmost, the local prejudices of our own country.” Therefore, according to this way of thinking, schools in Western countries such as America should not attempt to convince students of the truth of Western principles, or even worse, argue that some of these principles are superior to those of other cultures. Rather, they should simply teach students to “appreciate” other cultures.
4) Anti-Intellectualism:
As Isaac Asimov noted, “The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” Hutchins saw anti-intellectualism in the increasing resort to sentimentality in Western culture. Today, one sees it particularly manifested in schools in which students are encouraged to have opinions on matters of which they have little to no knowledge, and that the teacher’s job is merely to “affirm” these opinions.

Lattier stated, “These pernicious ideas have grown in strength since Hutchins wrote in 1951.” The four horsemen (harbingers of “the disintegration of the West”) of the “philosophical apocalypse” now permeate most public and private schools ranging from early childhood to even the most prestigious universities.

One need only observe the rise of (utopian) grievance groups such as modern activist feminists, Black Lives Matter and Antifa in recent years to see the effects of this permeation. The groups’ reigning narratives are strictly focused on the specific, personal perception of the aggrieved. These perceptions seem disconnected from the reality of cohesive logic and/or objective fact. This disconnect (and the groups’ members’ unwillingness to discuss or debate it) gives testimony to the power of methodical, systemic skepticism (as described by Hutchins), coupled with dogmatic devotion to the group’s particular ideology (see definition b of Idea, below.)

Another indication of the intellectual decay caused by the ‘four horsemen’ and their disciples is the deviation of ‘Skeptics’, particularly ‘internet skeptics’ from their intellectually philosophical forbearers. The true philosophical skeptics questioned everything to determine whether humanity could honestly know the truth about anything. This author refers the reader back to paragraph 2(two) for the meaning of ‘skepsis’ and skeptic.

The core concepts of ancient skepticism are belief, suspension of judgment, criterion of truth, appearances, and investigation. Important notions of modern skepticism such as knowledge, certainty, justified belief, and doubt play no or almost no role. Ancient debates addressed questions that today we associate with epistemology and philosophy of language, as well as with theory of action, rather than specifically with the contemporary topic of skepticism.

Modern skeptical views typically have either an epistemological form (focused on the epistemic status of certain beliefs) or focus instead on questions that are either local or radical. One common variety of modern skepticism concerns our beliefs about the past and argues that such beliefs lack positive epistemic status – that they are either not justified, not rational, or cannot constitute knowledge (perhaps two or even all three). Where skepticism does not have this epistemological focus, then it tends to be of an ontological form in that it is directed at beliefs about the existence of some supposedly problematic entity, such as the self or God. Here the target of the skepticism is not so much one’s putative knowledge of these entities (though it may be that as well), but rather the claim that they exist at all.

Local varieties of skepticism will only concern beliefs about a certain specific subject matter, such as beliefs in abstract objects or the conclusions of inductive arguments. Since ontological varieties of skepticism tend to be concerned with the existence of particular sorts of entities, they are usually (though not always) of this local form. In contrast, radical forms of skepticism afflict most of our beliefs and thus pose, at least potentially, the most pressing philosophical challenge.
The modern ‘skeptic’ community (both online and offline) grew out of Humanism and atheism, which established themselves as social movements in the mid-19th century. Some skeptics describe themselves as “joyfully debunking others’ outlandish truth-claims.” One universal is that skeptic can be, and often is, interchangeable with ‘atheist/antitheist’. Self-described as “…a remarkably successful informal learning movement, which has proved that people want to spend their leisure-time learning, discussing ideas and socializing.”

The growth of the ‘skeptic community’ has produced large and well-funded Skeptic organizations like the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the James Randi Educational Foundation. Calling themselves ‘freethinkers’ ‘rationalists’ or ‘scientistic’, they have morphed into political (see ‘The Geek Manifesto’) and social activists who seemingly have a single-minded drive to abolish religion as evidenced by poorly researched/plagaristic and dogmatic skeptic books by Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Jon Ronson and Richard Wiseman topping the bestseller list.
Perhaps the most telling trait of the ‘Skeptic Communities’ is their pathologic adherence to atheist dogma (in direct contradiction to their self-anointed label of skeptic/freethinker). Paul Kurtz, the founder of the movement, resigned “under duress” from CSICOP (by then called the Centre for Scientific Inquiry) after protesting against the organization’s “mean-spirited ridicule and criticism” of religion, including its sponsorship of ‘Blasphemy Day’. Under both the Classical and Contemporary definitions of ‘Skepticism’, it is nearly impossible to solidly adhere to any idea beyond “I don’t know.”

The philosophical definitions of an Idea are:
a) A concept developed by the mind.
b) A conception of what is desirable or ought to be; an ideal.
c) Platonism; .Also called form. An archetype or pattern of which the individual objects in any natural class are imperfect
copies and from which they derive their being.
d) Kantianism; Idea of pure reason. (1. Any of the three undemonstrable entities (a personal soul, a cosmos, and a supreme
being) implicit in the fact of a subject and an object of knowledge, and in the need for some principle uniting them.

The dogmatic adherence by certain groups to one or more of Hutchins’ ‘four horsemen’ ideologies has produced chaos in all Western societies. The chaos may largely be due to the groups’ rejection of the basic principles and ideals that are responsible for building and maintaining Western Civilization. The activists reject the free, advanced societies that allow them the freedom to reject and protest. Such cognitive dissonance is possible only if the activists have rejected the notion of objective Truth (below) in favor of Relativism (see above), as well as the other ‘horsemen’.

The definitions of Truth {trooth z, troths}
1. The true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
2. Conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
3. A verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.
4. The state or character of being true.
5. Actuality or actual existence.
6. An obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.
7. Honesty; integrity; truthfulness.

For many, truth simply means that the ideas of the mind correspond with the reality outside of the person. This concept of truth can be traced back to Aristotle and Plato. It is more recently by St. Thomas Aquinas’ balanced formula “equation of thing and intellect.” His inclusion of the material was intended to leave room for the idea that “true” can be applied not only to thoughts and judgments but also to things or persons (e.g. a true friend). Since the Renaissance, philosophers have paid little attention to the correspondence theory. By that time, it was considered too obvious to merit much attention. However they did spell out a psycho-semantic connection between ideas and the parts of the physical world ‘connected’ to those same ideas.

Object-based correspondence became the norm through Plato’s pivotal engagement with the problem of falsehood. Only things that are show up in this account (eg, Robin flying): in the case of falsehood, (Robin sleeping) the ascribed state still is, but it is a state different from the one of reality. The account is extended from speech to thought and belief via Plato’s well known thesis that “thought is speech that occurs without voice, inside the soul in conversation with itself.

Fact-based correspondence theories became prominent only in the 20th century. These theories do not presuppose that the truth-bearing items have subject-predicate structure; indeed, they can be stated without any explicit reference to the structure of truth-bearing items. The theory offers an alternative response to the problem of falsehood, a response that may claim to extricate the theory of truth from the limitations imposed on it through the presupposition of subject-predicate structure.

Many correspondence theorists likely consider it inconceivable and/or foolishly brash to insist that something being “true” amounts to “corresponds with a fact”. Some simple forms of correspondence definitions of truth should be distinguished (“iff” means “if and only if”; the variable, “x”, ranges over whatever truthbearers are taken as primary; the notion of correspondence might be replaced by various related notions):
(1) x is true iff x corresponds to some fact;
x is false iff x does not correspond to any fact.
(2) x is true iff x corresponds to some state of affairs that obtains;
x is false iff x corresponds to some state of affairs that does not obtain.

Both forms invoke portions of reality-facts/states of affairs-that are typically denoted by clauses or by sentential gerundives, conditionally dependent upon variable facts/states of affairs. The difference between (2) and (1) is akin to the difference between Platonism about properties (embraces uninstantiated properties) and Aristotelianism about properties (rejects uninstantiated properties)

Definition of Certainty plural certainties
1: something that is certain
2: the quality or state of being certain especially on the basis of evidence

Definition of Perception
1 a: a result of perceiving : observation
b: a mental image : concept
2 obsolete : consciousness
3 a: awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation
• Color perception
b: physical sensation interpreted in the light of experience
4 a: quick, acute, and intuitive cognition : appreciation
b: a capacity for comprehension

Definition of Reality Plural realities
1: the quality or state of being real
2a (1): a real event, entity, or state of affairs
• his dream became a reality
(2) a: the totality of real things and events
• trying to escape from reality
b: something that is neither derivative nor dependent but exists necessarily
3: television programming that features videos of actual occurrences (such as a police chase, stunt, or natural disaster) –
often used attributively
• reality TV
• in reality: in actual fact

Popular refrains from the online ‘skeptic community’ regarding theism and religion include ‘no scientific evidence’ ‘bronze-age superstitions’ and so on. This writer wonders how, given the definitions for skeptic, truth, idea, perception, certainty and reality established by highly respected sources, the skeptic community can claim to truly know, or be certain of anything? The finest minds of History; from Socrates and Plato to Descartes and on into modernity, have struggled to reason their way to a solid platform of knowing anything with certainty. Some spent their live in that pursuit.
Socrates and other Classical Skeptics (brilliant enough for their writings to survive 2,000+ years) were unable to answer that question. How, then can any of the self-important, self-satisfied internet skeptics know that they are not in a brain-in-a-vat, plugged into the matrix or a simulation program in an advanced AI? How much less are they qualified to declare that there is no Creator?

That they declare it with absolute certainty as proof of their own superiority of intelligence, whether in their channel names, their words or their behavior speaks of vast ignorance. The first thing a true skeptic must absolutely question is their own assumptions biases and the reliability of their sources. The so-called ‘skeptics/freethinkers’ failure to do so, coupled with their obvious egotism, hostility to any who break ranks (such as Paul Kurtz), and hatred of traditional Western Values, especially religion, loudly states that the movement is an absolutist ideological cult. To quiet the autistic screeches about rejecting religion, I ask whether Charles Manson was a religious leader. No, he was not. Nor was Karl Marx, Stalin, Lenin or any of thousands of other personalities who have led millions of people to destruction via dogmatic credos throughout history.

Sources:
https://www.britannica.com/topic/skepticism
http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/4-horsemen-philosophical-apocalypse
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/idea
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/truth?s=t
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth-correspondence/
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/skepticism-ancient/

The Skeptic movement


https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/certainty
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perception
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reality

Epistemic Hygiene

I’ve noticed that atheists on twitter have been confusing and conflating the burden of proof, a convention for debates, with a more general principle of epistemic hygiene. By epistemic hygiene, I mean taking care to believe true things and disbelieve in false things.

The argument goes something like this: If you don’t follow the burden of proof, you’ll be obligated to believe EVERYTHING, even absurd things without evidence. Now, this is two distinct ideas that have been conflated and tangled. One is whether someone is obligated in general to prove their claims (he is not). The other is what claims should you believe?

Following the right policies and judgments with what you believe is proper epistemic hygiene. Now this is where it gets interesting. Many important things are believed not on the basis of someone explaining the evidence for their existence, but by a direct ‘grasping’ or ‘seeing’ of them with the intellect. However, this ability can be broken, either in general or in certain circumstances. So the question is then, what can we grasp with certainty?

We can grasp things with certainty if we can ‘see’ the truth of them with the mind and have a web of beliefs that support that grasping. This web of beliefs can indeed be inspected by discourse, and the broad discourse of the wise is the standard of which it should be tested.

We cannot affirm all of our beliefs as individuals, but must look at the total work of all of humanity through time to come to reasonable certainty on anything.

Truth

“There’s no such thing as truth, epistemologically speaking.”

This is the response I got in response to mentioning that discourse is one of the best ways we have to find truth. From context, it seems to me that this means that we cannot know truth, or more generously, that we can’t know if we can know truth.

If first is the case, then everything reduces to language games and wisps of thought and beliefs without ground. We can’t know truth, so why believe in anything? Selecting belief systems for taste, or power, or arbitrarily is just as good.

If second is the case, that doesn’t free us of our moral obligation to know the truth to the best of our abilities. It may be the case that we can’t know truth, but it is a better life to live as though we can know what truth is.

Burdens, Proofs and Evidence

Evidence is what gives a belief justification. There are many types of evidence, and the quality of evidence will depend both on the belief in question and what other beliefs you have. Physical evidence is only one kind of evidence. Not all evidence is repeatably verifiable, either. Some examples of non-physical evidence include the testimony of experts, direct experience and memory. All of our experience isn’t repeatable, and experience is one of the best justifications we have for our beliefs.

A proof or argument is what connects specific pieces of evidence to some claim. Arguments and proofs aren’t evidence, but they connect evidence to the claim being supported.

The “burden of proof” is merely a convention of how certain discussions happen. It is not a rule of logic or a general obligation. I much prefer the Socratic standard: When you’re in a conversation, do your best to speak truth and help find errors of the people you’re speaking with.

If you don’t accept that the person making the claim has to prove their claim, you are under no obligation to belief anything without evidence. There are many types of evidence, some of which you already have at hand that you can use to test their claim using your own reasoning.

When someone makes a claim, you can also simply withhold judgment. There is no reason that you are obligated to believe or disbelieve. However, if they are making an error, it is helpful and respectful to point out how they are making an error and why you believe that it is indeed an error.

 

Todd & Max destroy Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell was a famous Atheist, who gave us “Russell’s Teapot” and “Why I Am Not A Christian.” Today Max and Todd from Praise of Folly take apart an overrated “rationalist.” Please also subscribe to Todd’s “Praise of Folly” channel for more interesting interviews! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh9m… Bertrand Russell’s essay: https://users.drew.edu/~jlenz/whynot….

New Video: Max Talks to a Witch named Autumn Storm

Yes this fella says he’s a real live Witch, and is in no way affiliated with Wicca, which he says is feminist bunk. He has some choice words for Manospherians talking about Evolutionary Psychology too!

He recommends these books to understand his faith:

“The Witch-cult in Western Europe: A Study in Anthropology” by Dr. Margaret Murray and ” “The Tarim Mummies” by JP Mallory and Victor H. Mair

Why Atheism is Ridiculous

Nowadays, atheists define their position as “lack of a belief in God or gods”. This definition itself is idiotic. By defining their position as lack of belief, that means that bricks, dust motes, and people in comas are atheists.

If we add a reasonable clause to this, changing it to “Atheism is lack of a belief in God or gods, in an agent that is capable of such a belief.” we end up with a psychological property. Psychological properties are uninteresting for philosophical discussion. “I lack a belief in God.” Well, we do believe in God. So what? Do you hold that lack of belief to be rationally justified?

They claim this lack of belief doesn’t have any additional impact on other beliefs.

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