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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Science as Divinity

What bothers me most about modernity is its reliance on science as a metaphysical judicator. The place in western lands once occupied by god has been replaced by metaphysical naturalism and though it ought to seem utterly absurd to the non-believer the naturalistic zealot has no problems holding on to rationally contrarious beliefs because, under naturalism, reason has been placed in the back seat whilst empiricism holds on to the wheel.

Can metaphysical naturalism be rationally defended?

Well, lets see a few objections.

1. Mathematics and the world.

If all that exists are objects within the natural world – then it becomes horribly hard to understand how mathematical objects relate to the world.
It is not possible to say that they are mere figments of our imagination without denying science. But you can’t as well say that they exist in an abstract undefined way, at least not without denying yourself the position of Naturalist.

2. Intentional states and Naturalism

Intentional states are not intentions. Intentional states are the properties of mental states to be about things. I can think about a stone or Dolly Parton. In a vast majority of variants of naturalism my brain is the originator of that aboutness. So how can the brain, about two pounds of a certain physical matter, be about other physical matter, universal concepts, abstract object or philosophical problems? It seems utterly absurd – but the naturalist must hold on to that position. Very few naturalists, apart from Dennett and the Churchlands deny Intentional states. (Well sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.)

3. The self

As with intentional states the naturalist must hold that two pounds of brain tissue can be the orignator of a sense of self without which we could never make sense of existence. But, of course – most naturalists do doubt the existence of the self – but is that rational? Of course it isn’t because if the self is not real – then what is it that holds beliefs and forms intentions and argues? What would be the difference between the knower and the known?

4. Rationality

If all that exists are atoms and the void – then what reason would we have to put stock in our beliefs about the world – be they about memories, political issues or science? Arguing, as many naturalists do, that introspection and reason is useless – then what tool do they use when judging between contending scientific views? Most would probably say falsifiability, but falsifiability cannot be discerned from your metaphyical beliefs or your scientific background. If you take a certain view on QM than your concept of falisifiability changes as well.

5. Morality.
If something is wrong then we must ask what that “wrongness” could be. If wrongness is a mere subjective state then it seems we can’t possibly ever feel morally superior to a robber. Even if I spent my life helping the poor I would be the moral equivalent of the grave-robbing necrophiliac.

To me this seems not logically absurd, given atoms and the void, it would make sense – but it seems something that would at least lead one to adopt Schopenhauers anti-natalism – the view that existence is such pain that it would be better never to have been born. For who could possibly live a life of moral denial? Only the psychopath! If natuarlism is real then whether or not to commit suicide is the only viable question, as Camus put it – ever so succinctly.

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All of the reasons above should make the seeker for truth accept the absurdity of naturalism but the faith of naturalistic zealots is not diminished one iota.

For example, how is it possible to argue for naturalism if one doesn’t believe our thoughts are about anything? It seems by far more absurd than almost anything we can think up.

So why don’t naturalists realize this? To me it seems obvious – the metaphysical standard has been taken over by science and it has been granted infallibility. No rational reasons can be given against natuarlism because the belief that science disproves reason without disproving itself is obviously false – but metaphysically necessary for those who above all things want to avoid religion.

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