The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Discussions on the nature of being, existence, reality and knowledge. What is? How do we know?

Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 14th, 2017, 6:44 am 

Well then you leave me wondering what exactly you are arguing about, mitchellmckain. Nothing you said is incompatible with anything I said.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Neri on November 14th, 2017, 11:51 am 

To All,

We have wandered somewhat off the issue but can bring it in clearer focus by asking ourselves:

Can we know states of affairs in the world that exist independently of our imagination?

I argue that we have the capacity to do so. Others disagree and maintain that it is impossible, because we are, as it were, locked within our own minds with no real access to the outside world. This leads them to conclude that imagined facts are on equal standing both with facts revealed by the senses and with facts logically derived from sense data. Actually, they deny there are such things as facts.

This leads them to conclude that science—because it ultimately depends on sense data—is not superior to the imagination.

On the other hand, while I concede that the senses may not be perfect, I say that they do reveal facts about the real world that are not concoctions of the mind. I base this on the following:

(1) Everyone, even those who profess otherwise, acts as though there are things outside of them that can do them harm. In other words, any sane person “believes his own eyes.”

(2) If the senses give us no real information about things outside of our minds, then the senses must be utterly useless. It hardly seems necessary to say that this cannot be the case.

(3) If one takes the position that there can be no absolute proof that we have access to external reality, it is also the case that there can be no absolute proof that we have no such access.

(3a) We are left instead with abductive proof—that which provides the simplest and most likely explanation under all the circumstances. Clearly, this heavily moves the matter in the favor of the proposition that the senses do yield real facts about the outside world. At the very least, it raises a presumption that places the burden of upon those who oppose the proposition to disprove it. This they cannot do.

That being the case, reasonable deductions based upon sense data are superior to the imagination. This is an argument in favor of empirical realism and accordingly argues in favor of science.

None of this means that sense information, reason or science is infallible. It means only that they are the best we can do and are are vastly superior to superstition (which results from the unfettered reliance upon the imagination.)

Indeed, every scientific theory, even those presently accepted as “laws of nature,” are susceptible to falsification by the discovery of new contradictory evidence (data provided by extensions of the senses through technology). Yet, so long as the evidence supports these theories, reason dictates that we are right to take them as true. Truth is not given to us as a perfection but always remains a work in progress.

We may quibble about how old the universe is in terms of small fractions of its total age, but it is not reasonable for us to believe that it is only thousands of years old. If we are honest, we must go where reason leads.

Nor is it the case that scientists are without human failings. History provides many instances where even renowned physicists have, out of personal pride, clung to their own theories long after they were disproved.

More than this, we are presently witnessing the influence of breeds of sciences not dependent upon the rigors of higher mathematics and the strict scientific method. Sadly, we see the unseemly union of science and politics.

The real scientist, despite his human imperfections, dedicates himself to a method that relies upon the logical implications of real facts, so far as they can be known. It is this strict intellectual discipline that has brought us to the present state of our understanding of the universe.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 15th, 2017, 12:50 am 

Is reason in the hands of a fool may be more dangerous than mere belief in the hands of a fool?

Neri -

Can we know states of affairs in the world that exist independently of our imagination?


you presume a dividing line and have no idea how you've come to have any perspective. There is no independent existence and to look for such is the exact same condition of looking for an "ontological proof of God"

Why can you not see this?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 15th, 2017, 2:01 am 

BadgerJelly » November 14th, 2017, 11:50 pm wrote:Is reason in the hands of a fool may be more dangerous than mere belief in the hands of a fool?

Neri -

Can we know states of affairs in the world that exist independently of our imagination?


you presume a dividing line and have no idea how you've come to have any perspective. There is no independent existence and to look for such is the exact same condition of looking for an "ontological proof of God"

Why can you not see this?

Don't be silly! That is not something you can see. It is merely something YOU THINK. It is a conclusion you have come to, and not one warranted by the evidence either. The evidence supports the existence of an objective aspect to reality (i.e that there are aspects of reality independent of any observers). It is not only why science works but why science can force conclusions upon the scientists that even they don't like.

This is not sufficient to establish that reality is exclusively objective -- any conclusion in that regard would be founded on subjective reasons. And there are good subjective reasons for believing that some portion of reality is in fact irreducibly subjective -- but there are no objective means of establishing this. Thus your expectation that Neri "see" things your way is quite unreasonable any way you look at it.

If Neri is claiming that reality is a completely independent existence (i.e. purely objective) then that is a perfectly rational choice for him to make. It is only unreasonable if he expects others to "see" things his way, for that is something which he cannot prove.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 15th, 2017, 2:35 am 

I wasn't going to respond to this but BJ's post makes me think that I have to see for myself the details of what Neri is saying.

Neri » November 14th, 2017, 10:51 am wrote:To All,

We have wandered somewhat off the issue but can bring it in clearer focus by asking ourselves:

Can we know states of affairs in the world that exist independently of our imagination?

Yes. I think our experience with science establishes that this is the case.

Neri » November 14th, 2017, 10:51 am wrote:I argue that we have the capacity to do so. Others disagree and maintain that it is impossible, because we are, as it were, locked within our own minds with no real access to the outside world. This leads them to conclude that imagined facts are on equal standing both with facts revealed by the senses and with facts logically derived from sense data. Actually, they deny there are such things as facts.

Science gets us beyond this basic reality by written procedures which anyone can repeat in order to get the same results. This establishes a basis for agreement regarding what is reasonable to believe with regards to certain things.

Neri » November 14th, 2017, 10:51 am wrote:This leads them to conclude that science—because it ultimately depends on sense data—is not superior to the imagination.

Well... If you are going to put it THAT way, then I agree with THEM! Science depends on imagination! It looks to me like your attempt to denigrate the subjective viewpoint by equating it with imagination has backfired!

I would certainly agree that science should be granted superior epistemological status compared to things which are known by personal experience, in the sense that the conclusions of science represent a good reason for an expectation that others agree, and it is only reasonable that people adjust their subjective apprehension of the world to at least be consistent with its findings.

Neri » November 14th, 2017, 10:51 am wrote:On the other hand, while I concede that the senses may not be perfect, I say that they do reveal facts about the real world that are not concoctions of the mind. I base this on the following:

(1) Everyone, even those who profess otherwise, acts as though there are things outside of them that can do them harm. In other words, any sane person “believes his own eyes.”

(2) If the senses give us no real information about things outside of our minds, then the senses must be utterly useless. It hardly seems necessary to say that this cannot be the case.

(3) If one takes the position that there can be no absolute proof that we have access to external reality, it is also the case that there can be no absolute proof that we have no such access.

(3a) We are left instead with abductive proof—that which provides the simplest and most likely explanation under all the circumstances. Clearly, this heavily moves the matter in the favor of the proposition that the senses do yield real facts about the outside world. At the very least, it raises a presumption that places the burden of upon those who oppose the proposition to disprove it. This they cannot do.

That being the case, reasonable deductions based upon sense data are superior to the imagination. This is an argument in favor of empirical realism and accordingly argues in favor of science.

None of this means that sense information, reason or science is infallible. It means only that they are the best we can do and are are vastly superior to superstition (which results from the unfettered reliance upon the imagination.)

Indeed, every scientific theory, even those presently accepted as “laws of nature,” are susceptible to falsification by the discovery of new contradictory evidence (data provided by extensions of the senses through technology). Yet, so long as the evidence supports these theories, reason dictates that we are right to take them as true. Truth is not given to us as a perfection but always remains a work in progress.

A lot of this is correct, but where I must disagree is in the way science has been too much equated with the senses --particularly the part in italics. The senses by themselves alone are only subjective. Science gives us a procedure to get beyond that subjectivity. You may see something for yourself, but that will only be reason for your own belief and not a reasonable expectation that others agree -- i.e. it remains in the subjective arena. The objective arena requires some means of demonstrating things so that other people can see it too.

Neri » November 14th, 2017, 10:51 am wrote:More than this, we are presently witnessing the influence of breeds of sciences not dependent upon the rigors of higher mathematics and the strict scientific method. Sadly, we see the unseemly union of science and politics.

Yes, I have seen this also. Whenever people look for evidence to support what they already believe then science has no part of it. And yes we will see this in the use of climatologists and psychologists employed to support a political or judicial position. Another example is when people look for evidence to support their belief in prenatal determination of sexual preference. Hunting up evidence to support what you believe is the most widely used methodology of human civilization. It is called rhetoric and it has its place, but it is not compatible with scientific inquiry.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 15th, 2017, 2:55 am 

Mitch -

Then you are equally blind to my point. You're bringing an assumption of existence to a subject matter that is purposefully questioning the very concern of "existence".

If you're merely deciding to frame ontology as a physical and material investigation then you're doing science not engaging with the ontological condition of said "physicality" and "materialism".

Don't be silly! That is not something you can see. It is merely something YOU THINK.


Can you distinguish the difference between "seeing" and "thinking"?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 15th, 2017, 11:07 am 

Bertrand Russell's objection to the idealists is that they give us no explanation of why we observe the stuff we observe. If existence only becomes a property of a thing at the point when one's mind allows one to form a perception or an idea of that thing, then it leaves us begging the question not just of why we perceive what we perceive, but why we perceive how we perceive. Materialism at least gives us a notion of how to investigate the answers to those questions.

The other problem is that idealism seems to necessitate two concepts of perception. If I fall asleep on a train and dream about daiquiris, I am not, during that time, perceiving the daiquiris. Yet in another sense I must be, because the train is still going. Everything that happened before you were born did not exist, if it is your mind which makes things so. Maybe it did exist now, but it didn't exist then. I use such seemingly bad grammar to illustrate the confusions which solipsism and idealism can get you in to. Isn't it so much simpler, so much more pragmatic, to posit that there's stuff outside of ourselves? Stuff which exists, as you put it, independently of our imagination?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 15th, 2017, 11:31 am 

Lomax -

I struggle with your semantic distinction between "independent" and "ideal". In my semantical understanding what is posited is essentially a socially agreed ideal.

Again, this is ontology we're talking about not physical materialism. It is one, of numerous, perspectives with which to approach our human condition. It is certainly helpful to cross-reference information and ideas across separate fields, but if we're to look at them "as if" independent then it is less than helpful to continually drag all perspectives into one bound idealized arena.

Solipsism brings some interesting "confusions" about, as do other perspectives.

"bad grammar"?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 15th, 2017, 11:37 am 

In metaphysics, idealism is the claim that objects do not exist, to borrow your phrase, independently of our imagination (or, more broadly, of the mind). The seemingly bad grammar was "it did exist now" - in other words it would have to be your now-existing mind which makes everything that preceded you have existed.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 15th, 2017, 11:58 am 

Lomax -

There are two polar claims. One is solipsism and the other is the hard-cast physical materialism. The variations of idealism, as far as I can see, do nothing more than than attempt to reconcile the two poles.

And a big issue of ontology is the meaning of "exist". Saying everything is a WooWaa therefore that thing over there must be a WooWaa is one way to look at things (sorry, WooWaas)
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Neri on November 15th, 2017, 12:19 pm 

Mitch,

Certainly I am in general agreement with what you say. However, it is useful, to make a distinction between the expressions, “subjective,” “objective” and “true.”

A proposition is subjective if only a certain individual accepts it. It is objective if it is accepted generally. It is true only if it corresponds to a state of affairs existing in the universe.

Clearly, you are right that there is an imaginative aspect to science. However, what a scientist imagines to be the case can only claim to be objective or true if it is established by empirical data. The latter refers to observations, measurements and experiments that require not only rational inferences and mathematical computations but also sensory data. Machines such as space telescopes, microscopes and proton colliders are, after all, merely extensions of the senses. As I observed earlier, without the senses, there would be no science.

However, in a certain way, it goes beyond this. There are aspects of every scientific theory—whether or not its predictions are established by empirical data--that appear to be of pure mental content. In many cases these theories are based upon mathematical models (although internally consistent) that seem like nonsense. The idea of action at a distance or the notion that we live in a block universe where nothing ever happens or that a probability distribution is a concrete reality fall into this category.

On the other hand, we cannot but believe that these models have, however obliquely, tapped into something true of the universe. The thing that keeps science grounded in reality is the acknowledgement that nature always has a vote.

Clearly, one must admit that the scientific imagination is quite different from what I have called unfettered imagination. The former involves a method of inquiry based upon reason. The latter does not.

For example, if there is an unexplained natural disaster, some will say it is the work of God who has punished those who displease him. In other words, without reasonable justification, they assume a supernatural cause. The scientist, on the other hand, says that the event will need to be studied to find a natural cause, for reason dictates that all things have a natural cause.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 15th, 2017, 12:30 pm 

Lomax -

I want to add something, but cannot find the reference (maybe Neuro if he's passing by can back me up here?)

If I remove part of your brain, the part that allows you to mind the left field of your vision, you'll not have a left field of vision AND you won't know that you've lost any part of your visual field (because I would've removed it completely.) What is more (if I remember correctly) you won't see anyone else as having a left side, you'll eat half of your plate of food thinking you've emptied the plate.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 15th, 2017, 1:32 pm 

If you attempt to do any such thing I shall be forced to take that Oliver Sacks book off you. The term is "hemispatial neglect". Here's the point: regardless of whether I only know about things to my right, I'll still have to account for why I think those things exist. A neurological account won't suffice, ontologically - I will have to explain why there seems to be a me to think such a thing (with credit, here, to Descartes). Idealism seems, by your analogy, like an attempt at removing both sides of one's own brain.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 15th, 2017, 1:50 pm 

Idealism is just a kind of open skepticism. The position may hold more or less to this or that idea of "object" and "real", but essentially I don't see how we can look at it as anything but skeptical.

My analogy was simply meant to show the obviousness of limitation.

The sentence you stated was grammatically correct btw, yet you'd fail a grammar test if you dids writtens like that :D

Thanks the reminder. Better jot that down somewhere ... I forget the "tentacle-like movement" term that took me so long to remember as well :( ... I need to write these things down more!!

Anyway, tired ...
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 15th, 2017, 4:34 pm 

BadgerJelly » November 15th, 2017, 1:55 am wrote:Mitch -
Then you are equally blind to my point. You're bringing an assumption of existence to a subject matter that is purposefully questioning the very concern of "existence".

If you're merely deciding to frame ontology as a physical and material investigation then you're doing science not engaging with the ontological condition of said "physicality" and "materialism".

Incorrect. You have just shown that you are blind to what I am explaining. You don't seem to have comprehended that my position is the middle ground. I have not accepted any "assumption of existence", materialism, or ultimate physicalism at all. But nor have I accepted the assumptions underlying your unreasonable solipsism-like skepticism.

Just as one can build a system of morality from psychology one can also build a basis for an objective apprehension of reality from psychology also. The reasons of mental health alone, including healthy relationships with other people, provides all the justification you need for investing in the knowledge of objective existence. It is enough to reduce your skepticism to petty quibbling and pie in the sky babbling which is so out of touch with the realities of human existence that people have no reason to listen to such crap.

You remind me of the church people who reacted to Galileo's telescope showing the moons of Jupiter by saying he has devised a device to tell lies. If you can demonstrate and show people something like that then it is unreasonable for them to insist on their philosophical declarations based on reasoning alone. Science has this superior epistemological status because it can show you exactly what it claims, reducing stubborn refusals to nothing but willful ignorance.

BUT I have not equated that with reality itself. I made that quite clear.

It is one thing to recognize the need to adjust your subjective apprehension of reality to the findings of science. It is quite another thing to demand that people replace their apprehension of reality with the findings of science alone. The first is only reasonable. The second is unreasonable for the very same reasons that the first IS reasonable, because that reduction is not something science can demonstrate the truth of.

BadgerJelly » November 15th, 2017, 1:55 am wrote:
Don't be silly! That is not something you can see. It is merely something YOU THINK.

Can you distinguish the difference between "seeing" and "thinking"?

Yes! So can most of the rest of humanity -- those who haven't blinded themselves with some impractical ideology. It is why we have these two different words -- because this is a distinction people have always made and understood.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 15th, 2017, 8:53 pm 

BadgerJelly » November 15th, 2017, 6:50 pm wrote:Idealism is just a kind of open skepticism. The position may hold more or less to this or that idea of "object" and "real", but essentially I don't see how we can look at it as anything but skeptical.

My analogy was simply meant to show the obviousness of limitation.

Skeptical? "Everything that exists depends upon the mind" seems like a rather affirmative and far-reaching claim to me. Extraordinary claims, as they say, require extraordinary evidence. Cognitive limitation seems like an odd way to show that cognition produces everything.

At any rate we do execute our daily lives with a practical distinction between the observed and the imagined. To argue that even the observed is imagined is to distract from the fact that ultimately we do understand some kind of ontological difference between horses and unicorns. St. Anselm (like Neri's differing formulation) is arguing that God is in the class of horses, not the class of unicorns, by virtue of His perfection. The soundness of that claim will stand or fall with the soundness of the "ontological argument".

BadgerJelly » November 15th, 2017, 6:50 pm wrote:The sentence you stated was grammatically correct btw, yet you'd fail a grammar test if you dids writtens like that :D

Thanks the reminder. Better jot that down somewhere ... I forget the "tentacle-like movement" term that took me so long to remember as well :( ... I need to write these things down more!!

Anyway, tired ...

Ha, I think it would have been grammatically correct if I were writing in the subjunctive tense. Remember to switch the universe back on when you wake up.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 15th, 2017, 10:25 pm 

Mitch -

Yes! So can most of the rest of humanity -- those who haven't blinded themselves with some impractical ideology. It is why we have these two different words -- because this is a distinction people have always made and understood.


I see! ;)

Won't I don't see is how anyone can ask an unreasonable question about god and use it as refutation. The very same refutation can be used because "existence" is not understood.

Take any examples you wish and say this exists where as this doesn't. Then distinguish what it is that makes it exist. you'll no doubt get caught up in the subject/object problem, an essential concern of ontology and epistemology I would say.

Do you see the light yet? Come join me in heaven, its more fun on this side :)

Lomax -

Skeptical? "Everything that exists depends upon the mind" seems like a rather affirmative and far-reaching claim to me. Extraordinary claims, as they say, require extraordinary evidence. Cognitive limitation seems like an odd way to show that cognition produces everything.


And that is the major issue of ontology and epistemology. Far-reaching yes, but its affirmation is still vague because we've put it into words. If the "material" object of the table exists more than the idea of "table" then there is no table. It is ridiculous to bring a claim of "evidence" to an ontological argument because it doesn't measure up because it is not the means of measure under investigation.

The OP is taking theological idea, which is unbounded by material ideals, and then applying material rules to it. The ontological proof of god doesn't need the tagged-on "existence", that is already embedded in the question.

Theologically it is illogical to claim that god doesn't exist because its illogical. An ontological proof, from a theological position, does not rely on physical evidence or the view of the world as purely a physical substance.

... ultimately we do understand some kind of ontological difference between horses and unicorns. St. Anselm (like Neri's differing formulation) is arguing that God is in the class of horses, not the class of unicorns, by virtue of His perfection.


From a theological position I think that is a very shaky claim. Just because we categorise experience it does mean the underlying unity doesn't ground our meaning value.

Regarding grammar I was not talking "prescriptively" ;)
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 15th, 2017, 11:06 pm 

BadgerJelly » November 16th, 2017, 3:25 am wrote:And that is the major issue of ontology and epistemology. Far-reaching yes, but its affirmation is still vague because we've put it into words. If the "material" object of the table exists more than the idea of "table" then there is no table. It is ridiculous to bring a claim of "evidence" to an ontological argument because it doesn't measure up because it is not the means of measure under investigation.

Perhaps wittingly or perhaps unwittingly, you conflate metaphysics with epistemology here. There's no reason why ontology should be above or beneath the need for evidence - in fact I think evidentialism is the only means of settling ontological disputes. Opting for idealism doesn't render evidence irrelevant - whether or not the things which exist are created by the mind or begin with the matter, they are still the things which exist, and there is still a conceptual demarcation between what we observe and what we do not.

BadgerJelly » November 16th, 2017, 3:25 am wrote:Theologically it is illogical to claim that god doesn't exist because its illogical. An ontological proof, from a theological position, does not rely on physical evidence or the view of the world as purely a physical substance.

The ontological proof provided by Neri does in fact contain a premise which can be tested by empirical means - specifically, the neurological and psychological claim that we could not conceive of a perfect being if it did not exist (note, by the way, that this is supposed to be the conclusion of the argument, so Neri is right to identify a circularity). As phrased by St. Anselm it contains a premise which is more a matter of opinion - whether existence is a necessary constituent of perfection.

BadgerJelly » November 16th, 2017, 3:25 am wrote:From a theological position I think that is a very shaky claim. Just because we categorise experience it does mean the underlying unity doesn't ground our meaning value.

I don't see why theology should get special treatment. I'm not talking about categorising experience, I'm talking about distinguishing it from unexperienced fantasies. We do this for a reason - it's why we invent fire extinguishers and not centaur extinguishers.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 15th, 2017, 11:58 pm 

Lomax -

Perhaps wittingly or perhaps unwittingly, you conflate metaphysics with epistemology here. There's no reason why ontology should be above or beneath the need for evidence - in fact I think evidentialism is the only means of settling ontological disputes. Opting for idealism doesn't render evidence irrelevant - whether or not the things which exist are created by the mind or begin with the matter, they are still the things which exist, and there is still a conceptual demarcation between what we observe and what we do not.


You missed/avoided my point. I was looking at the different possible kinds of evidence. To make a judgment about a question we seem to need to be able to have a hierarchy of evidence.

I would define "evidence" as being different kinds of correlation. From level of inquiry one correlation has more meaning/use than in other levels.

The ontological proof provided by Neri does in fact contain a premise which can be tested by empirical means - specifically, the neurological and psychological claim that we could not conceive of a perfect being if it did not exist (note, by the way, that this is supposed to be the conclusion of the argument, so Neri is right to identify a circularity). As phrased by St. Anselm it contains a premise which is more a matter of opinion - whether existence is a necessary constituent of perfection.


This is an epistemic problem (if you're inclined to delineate between ontology and epistemology.) Are you telling me you can define something yet you cannot conceive of it? It looks like a simple denial of knowing what you're saying or you're simply saying nothing much at all. Or is it simply a case of extending something beyond its means? (referring to definition of "prefect".)

I don't see why theology should get special treatment. I'm not talking about categorising experience, I'm talking about distinguishing it from unexperienced fantasies. We do this for a reason - it's why we invent fire extinguishers and not centaur extinguishers.


I think I've said this before. If you can imagine something you can bring about its resemblance. I cannot imagine something I cannot imagine.

I do think theology should get special treatment, and it necessarily does as a category of knowledge. What I am riling against (and my intention for posing, to some degree, as the theist) is refusal to accept different frames of reference. I am trying to show the ideological stance being taken not discredit any methodology.

Please recognize that "centaur extinguisher" has various connotations of meaning. I can only really understand what it means within a given context. For now I will assume it is a weapon used by Percy Jackson :D

I remain optimistic to some attempt to reconcile what I am posing here. I think it would be helpful if we can all arrive at some "objective" (that is not meant to be bait so don't take it) view and then from that position of mutual respect go at each other whilst fully aware of our common nature.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 16th, 2017, 12:12 am 

BadgerJelly » November 16th, 2017, 4:58 am wrote:You missed/avoided my point. I was looking at the different possible kinds of evidence. To make a judgment about a question we seem to need to be able to have a hierarchy of evidence.

Why not say so? You simply said it was ridiculous to bring claims of evidence to the table. Anyway, as yet I have seen no evidence that the mind is antecedent to every other thing, or that God is perfect, or that existence is more perfect that nonexistence, or any of the rest of it. But if your starting point is that everything you can think of must thereby exist - some people will have their cluttered mantelpieces. It only means that God is no more existent than Thor, nor more existent than the godless universe, even if they are mutually exclusive.

BadgerJelly » November 16th, 2017, 4:58 am wrote:Are you telling me you can define something yet you cannot conceive of it? It looks like a simple denial of knowing what you're saying or you're simply saying nothing much at all. Or is it simply a case of extending something beyond its means? (referring to definition of "prefect".)

No, I said no such thing and am baffled how anything I said could be taken that way. For one thing I didn't speak of "defining" things once. I said there's no reason to suppose that we could only conceive of a perfect being under the condition that it exists. And by presupposing such a thing, the ontological argument assumes what it sets out to prove - that God's existence is what makes us believe in (or imagine, or "bring about the resemblance of", or whatever) "Him".
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 16th, 2017, 12:15 am 

I should addend that of course we can define something without conceiving of it. I hereby define a Lomangle as a triangle that is not a triangle. Nelson Goodman makes much use of this point in his critiques of logical positivism. But that is a topic for another thread.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 16th, 2017, 1:06 am 

Interesting point, and it is a whole other problem that is part of the problem.

This is a matter of antonyms and how they differ. Saying something is not something else is a limitless/limited definition.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 16th, 2017, 1:27 am 

BadgerJelly » November 15th, 2017, 9:25 pm wrote:Mitch -

Yes! So can most of the rest of humanity -- those who haven't blinded themselves with some impractical ideology. It is why we have these two different words -- because this is a distinction people have always made and understood.


I see! ;)

Won't I don't see is how anyone can ask an unreasonable question about god and use it as refutation.

I don't see where anyone has done this. This thread wasn't about God but about a particular so called proof of God's existence. I can refute the proof even though I actually believe in God's existence. God and the proof are two very different things. Just because something is true doesn't mean an argument for it is valid or even that a valid argument for it is even possible.

BadgerJelly » November 15th, 2017, 9:25 pm wrote:The very same refutation can be used because "existence" is not understood.

Arguments from ignorance are invalid. That much is correct. But while the experience of God is not universal and thus subjective, the experience of existence IS universal and thus objective (unless you have some weird definition of "existence" disconnected from reality we experience). Thus I don't see how the two are even slightly comparable.

BadgerJelly » November 15th, 2017, 9:25 pm wrote:Take any examples you wish and say this exists where as this doesn't.

Ok......?
I exist. The solution to the following problem does not exist:
x+y =4
2x+2y =5

BadgerJelly » November 15th, 2017, 9:25 pm wrote: Then distinguish what it is that makes it exist.

By this I suppose you mean, what is the reason why I say it exists, for one does not have to know the cause of something in order to know it exists. I say that I exist because to think otherwise renders the very question itself meaningless. But in general, existence questions are difficult to find meaningful. The far more meaningful question is not whether it exists, but what is it?

What makes the second thing not exist? A logical contradiction ensues from supposing it does exist.

BadgerJelly » November 15th, 2017, 9:25 pm wrote: you'll no doubt get caught up in the subject/object problem, an essential concern of ontology and epistemology I would say.

Is this a real problem or merely an artifact of language?

BadgerJelly » November 15th, 2017, 9:25 pm wrote:Do you see the light yet? Come join me in heaven, its more fun on this side :)

I see reason to be skeptical of skepticism itself and indeed of all easy answers.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 16th, 2017, 2:55 am 

Mitch -

A partial tip of my hat to you then.

My concern here is to unpick the usefulness not disregard it. It seems there is a gist understanding in your responses and I imagine you can turn a lot of the question back onto yourself by asking about the artifacts of language as existent problems as real as real problems ... and again to the meaning of "real" which is hopelessly entwined in language and what is being proposed by "existence".

It is here that I feel something of the theological (although I think the "logical" is quite peculiar to us mere sensible folk) swims around, and that it is likely here that meaning is nascent and imagination and fantasy are held at bay like demons by the light of our fire of propositional understandings - sorry, couldn't resist veering into a Jungian perspective there, which shows something of the spandrels of the architectonic understanding, the pragmatism being framed as merely structural not meaningful.

Ok......?
I exist. The solution to the following problem does not exist:
x+y =4
2x+2y =5


This is easy enough. Given the data we can make some assertions about the how x and y are related. At a glance one solution would be to say that when x and y are of both multiplied by 1 then they both equal 2, yet when they are both multiplied by 2 they increase exponentially.

There are multiple solution depending on interpretation and application. We can of course create any number of set rules in which singular solutions are impossible. That is the solution though.

Someone else may look at your problem and talk about how the different collection of lines and curves represent the possibility of a pattern (this would likely be the approach of anyone completely unfamiliar with number systems or written representations of any kind.

Of course this approach is infinite and we can say such a thing because we cannot conceive of something infinite but we still think about it? But I can see a circle and understand that if I trace my vision round its edge I'll never come to a point where I can stop.

It is enough to reduce your skepticism to petty quibbling and pie in the sky babbling which is so out of touch with the realities of human existence that people have no reason to listen to such crap.


But then what is my theist alterego meant to do with this? If you reduce something to petty quibbling and pie in the sky babbling what is the use of such a thing. Better to just set your case and predispositions then lever out any bits possible to glare into the abyss of ignorance with humility. There is either something there, something not there, nothing somewhere or nothing nowhere.

note: I am trying to feed you bite sized pieces rather than smothering you with chaos pie. If it's hard to stomach and/or destroying your appetite I'll wind it in more - does seem like in the last little exchange some tendrils touched. (I can also cut the flowery language out if it helps?)
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 16th, 2017, 2:59 am 

Lomax » November 16th, 2017, 12:15 pm wrote:I should addend that of course we can define something without conceiving of it.


Go nuts with this from the opposing yourself if you can. It would help me a great deal to see what you'd squeeze from it.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 16th, 2017, 12:31 pm 

BadgerJelly » November 16th, 2017, 7:59 am wrote:
Lomax » November 16th, 2017, 12:15 pm wrote:I should addend that of course we can define something without conceiving of it.


Go nuts with this from the opposing yourself if you can. It would help me a great deal to see what you'd squeeze from it.

I don't think there's anything to be squeezed from it which would help us in this thread, which is why I didn't bring it up, and why I suggested it belongs elsewhere. It serves to knock down a defense (more specifically, the Carnap "truth by convention" defense) of the concept of analyticity, which argues that synonymy depends on what we can and can't conceive, or on what is and isn't possible. Other interesting questions Goodman asks (in response to Alonzo Church) are whether we can conceive a sound higher than 25kHz, or whether we can imagine a man 1,001 feet tall.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Braininvat on November 16th, 2017, 1:36 pm 

Well, way back up there, it seemed like there was agreement that "perfect" is a semantic artifact that really has little meaning when it floats free of very specific guidelines that are mainly social conventions. We can define all sorts of things as perfect and, if pressed on the matter, would have to admit we have no idea of perfection as something intrinsic to anything. A discussion of perfect cakes would be entirely a semantic dance with culinary conventions. Indeed, the word perfect really contains no meaning beyond "conforms to agreed upon conventions." So, St. Anselm's argument presumes prior agreement on that which it is arguing for, a perfect being. It's an argument that can only be generated in a very provincial and monistic culture.

And it also presumes that all definitions are offered with absolute conceptual integrity - had he lived later and known about artificial intelligence (the kind we currently have, without consciousness), he would have seen a nice example of a source of definition that is offered with absolutely no conceiving whatever.....I may define a "Squirckle" as a circle that happens to be square, and I will know that it is incoherent nonsense. You can't give it perfection, you can't give it anything. IF an AI makes that definition, there is no accompanying awareness.

The only way one can recognize a semantic trick is to have semantics. Nonsentient speakers have only syntax, and nothing more.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 16th, 2017, 6:40 pm 

Braininvat » November 16th, 2017, 6:36 pm wrote:Well, way back up there, it seemed like there was agreement that "perfect" is a semantic artifact that really has little meaning when it floats free of very specific guidelines that are mainly social conventions. We can define all sorts of things as perfect and, if pressed on the matter, would have to admit we have no idea of perfection as something intrinsic to anything. A discussion of perfect cakes would be entirely a semantic dance with culinary conventions. Indeed, the word perfect really contains no meaning beyond "conforms to agreed upon conventions." So, St. Anselm's argument presumes prior agreement on that which it is arguing for, a perfect being. It's an argument that can only be generated in a very provincial and monistic culture.

How much of a problem for Anselm is this, though? He need only say that there is general moral agreement because we are made in the image of God, or because He was kind enough, eventually, to write morality down on a block of stone for us. Given that we have an approximate general agreement of what's perfect (according to our guidelines that are mainly social conventions) he would be setting out to prove that there must be such a being which meets these ideals. I guess at worst (and maybe this is damning) it will mean that the different gods of differing societies are all real.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 16th, 2017, 9:06 pm 

BadgerJelly » November 16th, 2017, 1:55 am wrote:Mitch -
It is here that I feel something of the theological (although I think the "logical" is quite peculiar to us mere sensible folk) swims around, and that it is likely here that meaning is nascent and imagination and fantasy are held at bay like demons by the light of our fire of propositional understandings - sorry, couldn't resist veering into a Jungian perspective there, which shows something of the spandrels of the architectonic understanding, the pragmatism being framed as merely structural not meaningful.

(I can also cut the flowery language out if it helps?)

Perhaps in this case the language has indeed obscured my ability to grasp your meaning.

BadgerJelly » November 16th, 2017, 1:55 am wrote:
Ok......?
I exist. The solution to the following problem does not exist:
x+y =4
2x+2y =5

There are multiple solution depending on interpretation and application. We can of course create any number of set rules in which singular solutions are impossible. That is the solution though.

There is no solution. The rules are those of algebra. Unless you mean to say that "no solution" is the solution.

BadgerJelly » November 16th, 2017, 1:55 am wrote:Someone else may look at your problem and talk about how the different collection of lines and curves represent the possibility of a pattern (this would likely be the approach of anyone completely unfamiliar with number systems or written representations of any kind.

Well the algebra problem is equivalent to asking for the intersection of two parallel lines in a Euclidean plane. There is no intersection. And.... altering the question to something you prefer does not answer the question actually asked.

BadgerJelly » November 16th, 2017, 1:55 am wrote:note: I am trying to feed you bite sized pieces rather than smothering you with chaos pie.

If you serve up only chaos then I am not likely to even respond, treating it as merely unintelligible. If you serve up partial chaos then I am likely to ignore the parts where no meaning can be attached and just respond to those parts in which it can.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Neri on November 18th, 2017, 10:27 am 

Lomax,

To say that there is general agreement on what perfection is because we are made in the image of God is obviously to presume the existence of God when that is the very thing Anselm sets out to prove. In other words, such an explanation would beg the question.

Further, there is no general agreement on what perfection may be, any more than there is a general agreement on what beauty and goodness may be. These things are purely matters of opinion. In other words, they are not objectively determinable.

Mitch,

Because you apparently take the position that empirically supported scientific principles are only objective but not real in their own right, do you believe that the sun, the moon, the planets and the host of stars and galaxies did not exist before there were humans to conceive them?

BJ,

A few questions:

(1) Do you believe that you really have a body--arms, legs, ears, eyes and internal organs, including a brain?

[By “really,” I mean, “existing apart from your experience of them.]

(2) Do you believe that you are conscious but can really be rendered unconscious by injury or the infusion of certain substances into your body?

(3) Do you believe that you are capable of motion on the surface of the earth?

(4) Do you believe that your body can really be injured and that you will really die? [Again, bearing in mind my definition of “really.”]

(5) If you believe that that you can never really be injured or killed, what is the basis of that belief?

(6) Do you believe that there really are such things as dangers that can injure or kill you?

(7) Do you believe that a very great number of others like you exist without dependence on your awareness of them?

(8) If you do, do you believe that your senses correctly account for the reality of these others?

(9) Is it possible to know that others are real in their own right without the senses? If so, how?

(10) If all of humanity were killed [assuming you believe there is such a thing as death], would all things ever experienced by humans cease to exist?
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