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Time and Truth

The man. The myth.

Re: Time and Truth

Postby postodave » 02 May 2010, 13:28

You said you were not sure if Calvin's views were rational and you have said that rational means adhering to Aristotle's three laws of thought. Now if you can demonstrate that Calvin is violating these laws you will have a case that his argument is wrong. That is how rational debate works. So to say a view is irrational in your sense is to imply that the argument used in support of it is wrong and that unless some other argument does stand up the view cannot be held to be true iff the only reason for holding that view is argument. And then you will need an argument to demonstrate that this view is one of those that could only be held on the basis of argument and not on any other grounds

But simply asserting that he is violating those laws is not the same thing as demonstrating that he is violating them. You are assuming that to deny the absolute universality of the scope of Aristotle's laws is to deny their validity and undercut the possibility of debate but you have not really given any reasons why this is the case you have merely kept asserting it. You say you cannot give reasons because giving reasons presupposes the validity of Aristotle's laws. The problem is that I have not ever denied the validity of Aristotle's laws only suggested that their scope does not extend to the divine essence.

As we are simply going round in circles I think we had better chuck this in, don't you?
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby Nerd42 » 03 May 2010, 02:29

postodave wrote:You said you were not sure if Calvin's views were rational and you have said that rational means adhering to Aristotle's three laws of thought.
Well, the way Aristotle stated them might not have been exactly perfect but if we see what Aristotle was really talking about, we see a set of laws which really are necessary for anything to be "true."

postodave wrote:Now if you can demonstrate that Calvin is violating these laws you will have a case that his argument is wrong. That is how rational debate works.
Yes, but if God has an "essence" that is in some sense outside of rationality, we cannot discuss him rationally, and thus cannot have a rational debate on theology.
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby agingjb » 03 May 2010, 09:00

Hmm. I would have said that, in mathematics, infinity can be given (many) well-defined axiomatic bases, free of paradox but often with undecidable questions within the axiomatic basis. (Actually it might be better to say infinities - and infinitesimals).

For the believer of course all these systems are implicit in the mind of the Deity - which implies a sort of Platonism.

But as for theology, I would have said that rational debate is possible but that it will soon become clear that there are aspects of the Divine that transcend any formal or informal language. It is up to the theologian and philosopher to clarify meaning as far as possible. I would not, for instance, speak of "logic" but of "logics".

An example: the word "necessary" will soon arise, but a glance at a text on Modal Logic will reveal that there many (actually an infinite number of) formal systems - all consistent - with variations in the precise meaning of "necessary".
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby postodave » 03 May 2010, 13:25

Nerd said:
Well, the way Aristotle stated them might not have been exactly perfect but if we see what Aristotle was really talking about, we see a set of laws which really are necessary for anything to be "true."

If by things you mean objects then things cannot be true. Statements can be true or false. The statement that there are things that are not subject to the laws of thought is subject to the laws of thought and can be either true or false. A statement does not need to have the properties of its referent. If there is something that lies beyond the laws of thought we can make the statement that this is the case. What we cannot do is to make statements like this is either good or not good. But the statement 'this does not have the property of being either good or not good' can still truly apply. Or as Basil says we can know that it, God's essence is, but not what it is.
Nerd said:
Yes, but if God has an "essence" that is in some sense outside of rationality, we cannot discuss him rationally, and thus cannot have a rational debate on theology.

No. This means as Calvin says that theology concerns what God is for us not what he is in himself. It's a surprisingly modern point of view because it compares to the situation in physics where we can say what things like matter and energy and gravity do without having to know what they are in themselves.
Agingjb said
Hmm. I would have said that, in mathematics, infinity can be given (many) well-defined axiomatic bases, free of paradox but often with undecidable questions within the axiomatic basis. (Actually it might be better to say infinities - and infinitesimals).

When you say undecidable I take it you mean formally undecidable. It is I would have thought always possible for someone to pick a particular approach and stick to it. That's the only sense in which, as far as I understand him, I would want to accept Brouwer.
agingjb said:
For the believer of course all these systems are implicit in the mind of the Deity - which implies a sort of Platonism.

But then the question for me is always: does God just find all these possibilities, perhaps in his own mind which can survey the infinite, or does he create them ex-nihilo? It 's a tough question though I lean toward the latter. Augustine who Christianized platonism apparently said that to God even the infinite becomes finite because he can comprehend it. A paradox indeed!
But as for theology, I would have said that rational debate is possible but that it will soon become clear that there are aspects of the Divine that transcend any formal or informal language. It is up to the theologian and philosopher to clarify meaning as far as possible. I would not, for instance, speak of "logic" but of "logics".

I like that and want to know more. I sense Kurt Godel somewhere around here. Can Aristotle's laws of thought be seen as a formal language, or as a part of several possible formal languages. Are there formal languages that do not presuppose the first two laws?
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby Nerd42 » 03 May 2010, 15:46

postodave wrote:Nerd said:
Well, the way Aristotle stated them might not have been exactly perfect but if we see what Aristotle was really talking about, we see a set of laws which really are necessary for anything to be "true."

If by things you mean objects then things cannot be true. Statements can be true or false. The statement that there are things that are not subject to the laws of thought is subject to the laws of thought and can be either true or false. A statement does not need to have the properties of its referent. If there is something that lies beyond the laws of thought we can make the statement that this is the case. What we cannot do is to make statements like this is either good or not good.
But if God's essence lies beyond the laws of thought we cannot say God is good or not good either. (The Problem of Pain chapter 3.)

postodave wrote:But the statement 'this does not have the property of being either good or not good' can still truly apply. Or as Basil says we can know that it, God's essence is, but not what it is.
I already addressed this:
Nerd42 wrote:You seem to be saying that you know that this "essence" exists when it comes to God without knowing what this "essence" is. That seems impossible. If you can identify that it exists, you must know something about it. Otherwise, what do you really mean by saying that it exists? What are you saying exists?

I cannot see how we could admit a distinction between God's actual qualities and statements from God's "essence" or nature, because to admit this is to admit that God can change from being how he is in relation to us to being how he is in himself and this is impossible because God is unchanging.

If we are to speak of any Christian theology at all, we must assume that God tells the truth. Otherwise we can have no theological knowledge. And if we can have no theological knowledge, we can mean nothing by calling ourselves "Christians."


postodave wrote:Nerd said:
Yes, but if God has an "essence" that is in some sense outside of rationality, we cannot discuss him rationally, and thus cannot have a rational debate on theology.
No. This means as Calvin says that theology concerns what God is for us not what he is in himself. It's a surprisingly modern point of view because it compares to the situation in physics where we can say what things like matter and energy and gravity do without having to know what they are in themselves.
That's relativism in a religious disguise.
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby postodave » 03 May 2010, 19:56

Nerd said:
But if God's essence lies beyond the laws of thought we cannot say God is good or not good either.

Yes we can but we will be talking about God's covenental goodness in relation to creation which is subject to the laws of thought.
Nerd said:
You seem to be saying that you know that this "essence" exists when it comes to God without knowing what this "essence" is. That seems impossible. If you can identify that it exists, you must know something about it. Otherwise, what do you really mean by saying that it exists? What are you saying exists?

I cannot see how we could admit a distinction between God's actual qualities and statements from God's "essence" or nature, because to admit this is to admit that God can change from being how he is in relation to us to being how he is in himself and this is impossible because God is unchanging.

If we are to speak of any Christian theology at all, we must assume that God tells the truth. Otherwise we can have no theological knowledge. And if we can have no theological knowledge, we can mean nothing by calling ourselves "Christians."

Sorry I didn't go into this. I don't take the claim that God is unchanging to be a metaphysical claim about God's inner being I see it as a description of his covenental faithfulness. However in the Chalcedonian definition we are told that God assumes a human nature without change hence in this parallel case I do not see that the claim that God assumes a nature in relation to creation would imply any change. God can be how he is in himself and assume a nature in relation to us without changing especially if there was never a time when that assumed nature did not exist.
Nerd said:
That's relativism in a religious disguise.

If you like. Some things are relative. To be honest Nerd I haven't a clue what your point is here. I don't know what you mean by relativism or why you think relativism is a bad thing. I mean I can see why some forms of relativism would be a bad thing but I don't know which form of relativism you think I've fallen into or whether I would think that particular form of relativism was bad. Are you sure we shouldn't just drop this and talk about something else. I mean I keep wondering if red campion is really purple.
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby Nerd42 » 03 May 2010, 22:27

If God can behave one way to us and another contradictory way in another context, he's a two-faced liar / fraud and not to be trusted.

KJV Isaiah 45:19 wrote:"I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right."
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby postodave » 03 May 2010, 23:01

Nerd said:
If God can behave one way to us and another contradictory way in another context, he's a two-faced liar / fraud and not to be trusted.

Which context were you thinking of? I didn't mention any other context in which God was doing this. Look Nerd this is getting out of hand. I get the feeling that I've touched on something that has some strong emotional significance for you. In a way I can understand though your experience may be quite different to mine. When I first came across these ideas back in the late eighties I found them alarming. If they don't work for you then by all means feel free to reject them. This may sound relativist but I do think detailed metaphysical systems are under determined by scripture. So they are hypotheses which try to account for the information we do have. You seem determined to read something sinister into what I'm saying. I may be wrong about all this, but so far I feel your criticisms have fallen wide of the mark. You keep attacking a position I don't actually hold and every time I tell you I don't you find it hard to accept. I seem to have made the same point over and over again and you don't seem to have taken it on board. I get the feeling that you feel the same way about me. So let's let it rest.
See what I mean purple, or maybe pink. But not red.
Image
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby cyranorox » 04 May 2010, 16:03

As the truth given to us rests on encounter, testimony, narrative and mystery, I don't see where the laws of thought have much traction. Either you trust the witnesses, or you don't. There's no law to help with this decision. Either the verbal icon of Christ in the Gospels calls you to alligiance, or it does not; what law can rule on character? Either the beauty and meaning of the mysteries moves your heart, or you remain cold; no syllogism will aid you.
Apocatastasis Now!
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby Nerd42 » 04 May 2010, 21:49

The other context I am referring to is what you describe as "how God is in himself" which you are suggesting can be different than how God is to us. I'm saying if that were so, God would be dishonest and untrustworthy - the way he acted toward us would be just that - an act, not real.

Your statements about the flower are not specific enough to be propositions we can evaluate. I think the term for them would be "open sentences." Open sentences do not cause a problem for the law of the excluded middle, as it only applies to propositions with sufficient specificity.
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby postodave » 04 May 2010, 22:21

Cyranorox said:
I don't see where the laws of thought have much traction. Either you trust the witnesses, or you don't.
And in so saying presupposed the validity of at least one of the laws! Or was that the point? No it's getting very abstruse is all this. I doubt it counts for much spiritually.
Nerd said
The other context I am referring to is what you describe as "how God is in himself" which you are suggesting can be different than how God is to us. I'm saying if that were so, God would be dishonest and untrustworthy - the way he acted toward us would be just that - an act, not real.

It's not really a context and different here does not mean having some qualities other than the qualities we know; it means having no qualities at all. There is nothing unreal about God's actions and there is nothing untrustworthy about God. But as Cyranorox points out this is about trusting a person not having some technique you can use to prove that he must be trustworthy.
The flowers were a joke. In fact not even a joke. Just a piece of sheer whimsy. They are pretty though aren't they?
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby Nerd42 » 06 May 2010, 19:05

postodave wrote:It's not really a context and different here does not mean having some qualities other than the qualities we know; it means having no qualities at all.
Is "existence" or "non-existence" a quality? Given how I understand qualities, there is nothing that doesn't have them. (or, to get rid of the double negative in that sentence: Everything has qualities. No really, everything.)

postodave wrote:There is nothing unreal about God's actions and there is nothing untrustworthy about God.
This is simply another way of saying God follows the fundamental laws of thought. God says he is righteous and true. We know that righteousness and truth have certain properties, and if God is those things then God has those properties.

postodave wrote:But as Cyranorox points out this is about trusting a person not having some technique you can use to prove that he must be trustworthy.
It's not a technique, it's a theological axiom.
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby postodave » 06 May 2010, 23:04

Hi Nerd

Right now I don't see anything fruitful coming from this discussion. Is non-existence a quality. No, I don't think so. Imagine an object or entity. Think of all it's qualities. Now imagine an object exactly the same but without the quality of existence. In what way do the two differ?

You say
God follows the fundamental laws of thought. God says he is righteous and true. We know that righteousness and truth have certain properties, and if God is those things then God has those properties.

I think I have never denied this. You think I have denied it. We are going in circles. So right now I am going to say that I am pulling out. You can reply if you like but I'm calling this a day. If you want to explore the kind of philosophical system I've been trying to defend I can recommend some sites. If you're not interested that's okay.

Dave
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby Nerd42 » 06 May 2010, 23:33

postodave wrote:Right now I don't see anything fruitful coming from this discussion. Is non-existence a quality. No, I don't think so. Imagine an object or entity. Think of all it's qualities. Now imagine an object exactly the same but without the quality of existence. In what way do the two differ?
In that I can use the dollar that exists to buy things, but the store won't accept imaginary currency.

Lewis said, "We can attribute miracles to God, but not nonsense." I find that statement to be a necessary truth and don't consider it to be an open question. I did say that it isn't really possible to have an enlightened debate on this subject, because all enlightened debates depend on it a priori.

I honestly don't understand how you can say God as he is in himself isn't a context. Seems like that's saying apples can moo. If you've got a fuller explanation of that, that might be good
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Re: Time and Truth

Postby postodave » 09 May 2010, 18:29

I don't want to be rude nerd but I really am pulling out.
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