Archive for the ‘determinism and free will’ Category

Even as rigorous a determinist as Karl Marx spoke with a withering scorn which only the presupposition of moral responsibility could justify

October 22, 2009

Even as rigorous a determinist as Karl Marx, who at times described the social behavior of the bourgeoisie in terms which suggested a problem in social physics, could subject it at other times to a withering scorn which only the presupposition of moral responsibility could justify.

R. Niebuhr, in C.S.Lewis, Miracles, 1959, p.43

I was bound by the iron chain of my own will

October 19, 2009

I was bound by the iron chain of my own will. The enemy held fast my will, and had made of it a chain, and had bound me tight with it. For out of the perverse will came lust, and the service of lust ended in habit, and habit, not resisted, became necessity. By these links, as it were, forged together–which is why I called it “a chain”–a hard bondage held me in slavery.

Augustine, Confessions, VIII, 5, 10

For the law of sin is the tyranny of habit, by which the mind is drawn and held, even against its will. Yet it deserves to be so held because it so willingly falls into the habit.

Augustine, Confessions, VIII, 5,12

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings

October 7, 2009

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Cassius, Julius Caesar (Act I, Scene ii, 140-141).

The context of the passage is a denial of fatalism/astrology and subservience to Caesar, a mere man.

I am furious at being entangled in a confounded philosophy which my mind cannot refrain from approving and my heart from denying

September 24, 2009

I am furious at being entangled in a confounded philosophy which my mind cannot refrain from approving and my heart from denying.

Diderot, a philosphical naturalist and rationalist writing to his beloved, Spohie Volland.

in Os Guiness, Dust of Death, 1974, p.353

His materialist reductionism rendered ‘love’ meaningless along with ‘choice’ and yet something within him rebelled against it.

Behaviourism will perfect the world

September 21, 2009

For the universe will change if you bring up your children, not in the freedom of the libertine, but in behavioristic freedom … Will not these children, in turn, with their better ways of living and thinking, replace us as society and in turn bring up their children in a still more scientific way, until the world finally becomes a place fit for human habitation?

J. B. Watson, 1930, in Nigel C. Benson, Introducing Psychology, Icon, 1999, p.75

Naturalism undermines knowledge

September 8, 2009

Naturalism holds that perception and knowledge are either identical with or a byproduct of the brain; they arise from the functioning of matter. Without matter’s functioning there would be no thought. But matter functions by a nature of its own. There is no reason to think that matter has any interest in leading a conscious being to true perception or to logical (that is, correct) conclusions based on accurate observation and true presuppositionsWhy should whatever that matter is conscious of be in any way related to what actually is the case? Is there a test for distinguishing illusion from reality. Naturalists point to the methods of scientific inquiry, pragmatic tests and so forth. But all these utilize the brain they are testing. Each test could well be a futile exercise in spinning out the consistency of an illusion.

James W Sire

THE UNIVERSE NEXT DOOR by James W Sire, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, pp.93-94

Our number came up in the Monte Carlo game

September 8, 2009

We would like to think of ourselves as necessary, inevitable, ordained from all eternity. All religions, nearly all philosophies, and even a part of science testify to the unwearying, heroic effort of mankind desperately denying his own contingency. …The universe was not pregnant with life nor the biosphere with man. Our number came up in the Monte Carlo game. Is it any wonder if, like the person who has just made a million at the casino, we feel strange and a little unreal?… then man must at last wake out of his millenary dream; and in doing so wake to his total solitude, his fundamental isolation. Now does he at last realize that, like a gypsy, he lives at the boundary of an alien world. A world that is deaf to his music, just as indifferent to his hopes as to his suffering or his crimes… If it is true, as I believe, that the fear of solitude and the need for a complete and binding explanation are inborn—that this heritage from the remote past is not only cultural but probably genetic too—can one imagine such an ethics as this, austere, abstract, proud, calming that fear, satisfying that need? I do not know.

The ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor his duty.

Jacques Monod, Chance and Necessity, 1971

Naturalism kills man

September 8, 2009

…man is a machine, and that in the whole universe there is but a single substance differently modified.

La Mettrie

If matter is all there is, then we are machines  and thus dead because we are robots. Freedom is an illusions and morality a pretense covered by secret power plays.

Naturalism – Man is not valuable at all

September 7, 2009

Did naturalism give an adequate reason for us to consider our-selves valuable? Unique, maybe. But gorillas are unique. So is every category of nature. Value was the first troublesome issue. Could a being thrown up by chance be worthy?

Second, could a being whose origins were so “iffy” trust his or her own capacity to know? Put it personally: If my mind is conterminous with my brain, if ‘I’ am only a thinking machine, how can I trust my thought? If consciousness is an epiphenomenon of matter, perhaps the appearance of human freedom which lays the basis for morality is an epiphenomenon of either chance or inexorable law. Perhaps chance or the nature of things only built into me the “feeling” that I am free but actually I am not.

James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door, Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988, p. 83.

Naturalism = Determinism. No wriggle room.

September 7, 2009

Naturalism leaves no room for human freedom either of thought or of will: it implies a thoroughgoing determinism. Mind, being itself the product of this vast interlocking system of nature, has no power of independent thought: all thought is the result of irrational natural causes…(But) once the independence (from nature) of rational thought be admitted…, nature can no longer be regarded as the whole of reality. Here is something over and above nature by which its actual course may be modified.

Raymond Abba, Nature and Authority of the Bible, p.155-156