Re: Evil ? (was: Hypostases (was: Natural Order & Belief)

From: Tom Caylor <>
Date: Sun, 24 Dec 2006 14:29:00 -0800

On Dec 24, 3:49 am, Stathis Papaioannou
<> wrote:
> Tom Caylor writes:
> > Bruno,
> > I have been doing a lot of reading/thinking on your former posts on the
> > Hypostases, other reading on Plotinus and the neo-Platonist hypostases,
> > and the Christian "interpretation" of the hypostases. There is a lot
> > to say, but I'll start by just giving some responses to your last post
> > on this.
> > On Dec 11, 8:46 am, Bruno Marchal
> > > I agree that the problem of evil (and thus the equivalent problem of
> > > Good) is interesting. Of course it is not well addressed by the two
> > > current theories of everything: Loop gravity and String theory. With
> > > that respect the comp hyp can at least shed some light on it, and of
> > > course those "light" are of the platonic-plotinus type where the notion
> > > of goodness necessitates the notion of truth to begin with. I say more
> > > below.
> > The discussions over the last two weeks on Evil, and just how to define
> > good and bad, underscore how puzzling this problem can be. I agree
> > that at the base of this is the question, "What is Truth?" I am not
> > satisfied with the Theaetetus definition, or Tarski's "trick". I
> > believe the answer to the question, "What is Truth?" which Pilate asked
> > Jesus, was standing right in front of Pilate: Jesus himself. The
> > Christian definition of truth goes back to the core of everything, who
> > is personal. As I've said before, without a personal core, the word
> > "personal" has lost its meaning. In the context nowadays of
> > impersonal-based philosophy, "personal" has come to "mean" something
> > like "without rational basis". But when the personal IS the basis, not
> > an impersonal concept of personal, but the ultimate Person, and with
> > man being made in the image of that ultimate Person, we have a basis
> > for truth, personality, rationality, good...

> I'm not sure that this is what you meant, but there is in a sense an objective
> basis to the personal or subjective, which is simply that when I say I feel or
> desire something, this is an empirical statement: either I do feel it or I am
> lying.

This looks like Tarski's trick to me. It is an act of faith any time
we take what we say as truth. This is unsupported without an ultimate
Person who gives the ultimate source of bringing truth into existence
through words.

> Also, there is an objective explanation for why I have the feeling in
> terms of neurophysiology, evolution and so on. But this is not enough for some
> people and they think, for example, that there must be more to "love" than
> just particular feelings and the scientific basis for these feelings. But this
> mysterious love-substance would appear to make no difference whatsoever.
> The evidence is that if certain chemical reactions occur, the love feeling also
> occurs, and these chemical reactions occur because they have evolved that
> way to assist bonding with family, community and so on. That explanation
> covers everything, and the love-substance remains superfluous and undetectable,
> inviting Occam's Razor to cut it down.
> Stathis Papaioannou

Reducing everything to particulars results in the loss of meaning.
Schaeffer describes this process as nature "eating up" grace.
Reductionism has resulted in "cutting out" the basis for knowledge.
Knowledge has to be personal, as shown by the epistemologist Michael
Polanyi, particularly in his book "Personal Knowledge". Of course
Bruno maintains that after Godel we have gone beyond reductionism, but
I don't think so. I will say more in response to his post.

I don't have my notes with me, but a few examples of what happens with
reductionism are: Jacques Monods (?) in his Chance and Necessity
reducing everything basically to the roll of the dice -> B.F. Skinner,
eliminating freedom and dignity of man, and saying farewell to man qua
man. The result: the rule of the elite. I had the privilege of
hearing a guest lecture by Skinner at UCLA in the '80s, and the
question & answer section was pretty lively, with agnostics defending
freedom and dignity as if they really believed in it. Marvin Minsky
and his colleague (don't recall his name) at MIT, saying that basically
we have to act "as if" we have free will, even though we "know" that we
don't. Talk about a loss of the concept of truth.


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Received on Sun Dec 24 2006 - 17:29:19 PST

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