World Philosophy in Summary Form: Preface

I borrowed Masterpieces of World Philosophy in Summary Form, by Frank N. Magill and staff, from our church's library. I will post snippets that I find interesting.

From the Preface:

As seekers after truth, perhaps philosophers have given closer attention to the works of their predecessors and contemporaries than any other group. A new book of serious standing on the subject of philosophy is quickly dissected by experts, critics who are relentless in their pursuit of error and who stand ready to demolish forthwith any false idea advanced. So, painstakingly, has the thread of truth been kept intact—tested, altered, its flaws mended as it passed from one hand to the next down through the centuries.

One wonders exactly how these ideas are tested and shown to be true. Even though there is a "
replication crisis" in science, and disagreements about the interpretation of quantum mechanics (e.g. here, here and here), at least, science has Nature to test their ideas against.

Trinity: Full Circle

For just a little over two years I have been discussing the doctrine of the Trinity with a friend who has misgivings about it. One of the issues that we've gone back and forth on is whether or not the writers of Scripture should have had the same understanding of the Trinity that we do today. He thinks the answer has to be "yes", since they were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write what they did about Jesus. I think the answer is "no", for two reasons. First, the writers of Scripture wrote over a period of years. What one author wrote might not have been available to another author, and the doctrine of the Trinity comes out of the entirety of statements about Christ. Second, in some ways, God and Nature are alike. Both appear to have an unchangeable core (for Nature, as far as we can currently ascertain, physical law and physical constants haven't changed). But while Nature has always presented the same "face" to us, we are still learning about it. The 20th century saw two great revolutions in our understanding: General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. How we understand the world today is very different from that of Einstein (while he developed Relativity, he didn't like Quantum Mechanics), Newton, Copernicus, and Aristotle. We remain puzzled over dark matter and dark energy, so our understanding tomorrow will be different. Yet Nature hasn't changed. Nature has always revealed what Nature is. God, on the other hand, progressively revealed Himself to us, culminating in the revelation of His Son. Yet, as with Nature, it has still taken us time to digest what has been said. One of the biggest impediments to understanding Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and the Trinity, is our intuition. All three are counter-intuitive and we have trouble accepting that. That's a story for another time.

But I digress. Our church is considering hiring an assistant pastor who went to Wheaton. In 2015, Wheaton initiated termination proceedings against tenured professor Larycia Hawkins. I blogged about it
here. Since I'm a troublemaker, I plan on asking the candidate his opinion on the whole matter and whether or not he agrees with Wheaton's position. I hope he doesn't, because I think Wheaton is very much wrong. In reviewing my post, I decided to bring some (but not all) stale links up to date. One of the links was to her response to Wheaton. Since that link, to Scribd, now requires a subscription to view fully, I managed to find it elsewhere. In it, she wrote:

On the "yes" side, both Christians and Muslims (as well as Jews) confess that God is One (Deut. 6:4). So, yes, Christians and Muslims (and Jews) affirm fully that "that God is the Father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" but –borrowing from Stackhouse--"if we insist, as many are insisting in this furore, that God must be understood in terms of the Trinity, with a focus especially on Jesus, or else one really doesn't know God, I respectfully want to ask such Bible believers what they make of Abraham (who is held up as a paradigm of faith in the New Testament) and the list of Old Testament saints (who are held up as paradigms of faith to Christians in Hebrews 11), precisely none of whom can be seriously understood as holding trinitarian views and some proleptic vision of the identity and career of Jesus Christ."

Dr. Hawkins supports my position that our understanding of Christ has been progressive. I texted this to my friend. His response was that my post on Dr. Hawkins was the first link I ever sent him.

Wright Runs Away -- Then Came Back

Update 9/17 @ 11:15am: This morning I looked to see if there had been any more comments on the below referenced post and I saw that my comment, which had been deleted, was now present. So I retract the statement that Wright ran away. Still, if he would only attempt to show me where I'm wrong in my argument...

Over the years I've had several fruitless, yet generally polite, arguments[1] with author, philosopher, and theist
John Wright. Fruitless, because neither of us is swayed by the other's arguments. I remain fully convinced that some of his arguments are wrong, even if some of his conclusions happen to be right. Polite, because we stick to the arguments.

But, yesterday, in Wright's
Parable of the Adding Machine, he deleted a response that I made to him.

initial response. His response. Here is the reply he deleted:

A stopsign written in Chinese only means STOP to someone who reads Chinese.
Drop me in the middle of China and I'll tell you which sign means "stop" after watching how the Chinese behave around them.
[The symbols] must follow arithmetic rules.
Sure. But the rules are labels for behaviors. Show me the behaviors and I'll tell you what the symbols mean.
The behavior of the gear train is a thoughtless therefore blind and meaningless motion of bit of matter in reaction to a clerk pressing a lever.
The behavior follows a pattern, a pattern which is the same as that performed with stones and pails. Since we've given labels to the latter behaviors, because the behavior of the machine matches that pattern, we can use the same labels.
... because the form of both the clerks calculation and the gears' motion share the same form
So you agree with the first sentence of the prior blockquote. Do you disagree with the second sentence? If so, why?
But the machine cannot count.
It implements the successor function for a finite set of numbers. The behavior is what matters.
It is not alive.
Define "alive". Is a virus alive?
The same symbols written in a different order on another part of the machine, or on a piece of paper, would have no meaning at all
Sure, if they can't be associated with behavior. But, just like watching Chinese behavior around a Chinese stop sign to learn what
means, if I could watch the behavior of whatever made the marks, I might be able to learn what they mean. Or find a Rosetta stone, which is just a shortcut for the same thing.

It isn't clear to me why Wright deleted this response. He's certainly free to do whatever he wants with his blog, but I didn't violate any of his conditions for posting. My guess is that this left him with a challenge he couldn't rebut. Wright very much wants to prove that immaterial things exist. That's easy. But he also wants to prove that they exist apart from material things. That's hard. It may be impossible to prove either way. What my response showed is that arithmetic is based on simple physical operations. Add a rock to a pail. Remove a rock from a pail. Determine if a pail is empty. Do something if a pail is empty otherwise do something else. These actions give you addition, subtraction, multiplication, and exponentiation over the non-negative integers. Attach labels to these actions and you have elementary arithmetic. Attach labels to collections of labels and you have shortcuts that hide a tremendous amount of physical activity. Wright doesn't know how to sever the ideas of math (which are basically just "potential actions," not unlike a high jumper who looks where he's going to make each step on his approach to jumping over the bar before he actually does it). This argument supports the idea that math is "matter in motion in certain patterns," which Wright very much does not want to be true.

This explains why, in a previous discussion, Wright was so opposed to the following observation about Euclidean geometry, by Marvin Jay Greenberg, from
Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometries:

Ancient geometry was actually a collection of rule-of-thumb procedures arrived at through experimentation, observation of analogies, guessing, and occasional flashes of intuition. In short, it was an empirical subject in which approximate answers were usually sufficient for practical purposes.

This challenged his assertion that Euclidean geometry was purely non-physical.

Am I right as to why he deleted my post? I may never know, because he avoided the challenge.

A partial catalog of discussions with Wright:

9/8/2010Dialog With An Adding Machine
1/26/2011Materialism, Theism, and Information
3/24/2011Taking Ideas Seriously
4/16/2011Bad Arguments Against Materialism
5/8/2012My Instinct is to say the Morality is not Instinctive
4/29/2014The Cosmic Chessboard, or, ONCE MORE FOR OLD TIMES SAKE!
12/15/2014When Wright Is Wrong
5/17/2015The Notorious Meat Robot Letters – Expanded!
5/16/2015Man Is The Animal...
5/8/2019No Metaphysics, No Physics