Re: Evil ?

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2006 20:38:12 -0800

Tom Caylor wrote:
> On Dec 26, 7:53 pm, Brent Meeker <> wrote:
>> Tom Caylor wrote:
>> > On Dec 26, 3:59 pm, "" <>
>> > wrote:
>> >> I regard the idea of "believing" to be unsound, because it is a
>> >> pre-Freudian concept, which assumes that each person has a "single
>> >> self" that maintains beliefs. A more realistic view is that each
>> >> person is constantly switching among various different "ways to think"
>> >> in which different assertions, statements, or bodies of knowledge keep
>> >> changing their status, etc. Accordingly our "sets of beliefs" can
>> >> include many conflicts--and in different mental contexts, those
>> >> inconsistencies may get resolved in different ways, perhaps depending
>> >> on one's current priorities, etc.
>> > Dr. Minsky,
>> > In your book, Society of Mind, you talk about a belief in freedom of
>> > will:
>> > "The physical world provides no room for freedom of will...That concept
>> > is essential to our models of the mental realm. Too much of our
>> > psychology is based on it for us to ever give it up. We're virtually
>> > forced to maintain that belief, even though we know it's false."
>> Whether it is false depends on what you mean by free will. Dennett
>> argues persuasively in "Elbow Room" that we have all the freedom of
>> will that matters. Our actions arise out of who we are. If you
>> conceive yourself comprehensively, all your memories, values,
>> knowledge, etc. then you are the author of your action. If you
>> conceive yourself as small enough, you can escape all responsibility.
>> > Are you saying that we must use an unsound idea (belief)?
>> > Regarding Stathis' question to you about truth, your calling the idea
>> > of believing unsound seems to imply that you are assuming that there is
>> > no truth that we can discover. But on the other hand, if there is no
>> > discoverable truth, then how can we know that something, like the
>> > existence of freedom of will, is false?
>> > However, the belief in freedom of will seems to be a belief that is
>> > rather constant, so there seem to be some beliefs that provide evidence
>> > for an invariant reality and truth, not necessarily freedom of will,
>> > but something. And I think that looking for ultimate sources would be
>> > circular (as you've said on the Atheist List) only if there were no
>> > ultimate source that we could find. Do you agree with this statement?
>> It would be futile - but not circular. It is circular to argue that
>> belief is evidence for the thing believed.
>> Brent Meeker
> I was providing a belief as evidence not for free will but for some
> invariant reality/truth, e.g. the source of actions in your words, "who
> we are".

OK. But we know of many beliefs that are false and people sometimes act on false as well as true beliefs. Since it is circular to argue that a belief is evidence for the thing believed, then it is also circular to argue from belief in general to the existence of truth in general. A fortiori it is circular to argue from a single belief, belief in free will, to the existence of truth in general or to any true statement, except that some people believe in free will.

Brent Meeker

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Received on Tue Dec 26 2006 - 23:38:35 PST

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