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 mitchellmckain on November 27th, 2017, 11:54 am 

It is amazing to me how quickly this Wikipedia article on realism is changing. Just since the above post there have been additions. "Truth-value link realism" has been added and semantic realism has been divided into two kinds.

I wanted to note that the different types of realism in the list are often about different issues though some have been mentioned in this thread. For example, Scotistic realism is on the issue of universals and should be in a list of its own like the following:

Platonic realism
Nominalism
Conceptualism
Scotistic realism

Plato considered universals to be real in their own right over and above particulars. Nominalism opposed this to assert that only particulars exist.

Conceptualism took a median position that universals exist conceptually in the mind. This sounds good but I have a couple of objections. First of all these universals in the mind would be particulars in their own right existing in particular minds. Also it makes a dubious claim that there is no raw sensory data to be taken as a given for empirical knowledge. McDowell claimed that our perceptual relationship to the world is conceptual all the way out to the worlds impact on our receptive capabilities. I think this is too simple. This is only true when we conceptualize the perceptive process but this should not be confused with the perceptual process itself. I am not trying to defend empiricism, but I would not stand behind this particular objection.

Scotistic realism opposed conceptualism to claim that universals exist in reality. I wouldn't be surprised if this is connected to some proof for the existence of God somehow, perhaps even the Ontological proof.

Anyway, I see more truth in nominalism and conceptualism than in Platonic realism or Scotistic realism, even if I do not support all of the claims made by them.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 27th, 2017, 3:57 pm 

I'm pleasantly to find this thread is still interesting after five full pages, although if it's a general debate about theism and religion now, we can expect fifty more.

mitchellmckain » November 23rd, 2017, 12:30 am wrote:I certainly agree with all of this. Another problem I see is that the P entity is also poorly defined because while we can imagine perfection like an infinite limit on some one dimensional measure, there are far more than one aspect to any being. And if we are striving to describe something good we do not want to go to extremes in all attributes because for some things being good is a matter of having opposing tendencies in balance. Thus I would suggest there is not only a multiplicity of G but also a multiplicity of P, and not everyone is going to choose the same attributes which should be optimized (by some infinite limit) in a being they would respect and admire.

I think we need only say that the perfect being is the one which maximises the sum total of these desirable traits, as much as possible. It's probably nothing the simplex method couldn't deal with.

hyksos » November 22nd, 2017, 1:59 pm wrote:Are these above scenarios true on account of the fact that I can deductively show them as possible and logically plausible? Of course not. It is equally logical to claim that G=P. I don't see how deductive logic in isolation could resolve either scenario.

We have a more general problem with deontic logics here. Consider that the following premise of the ontological argument is prescriptive:

P2: It is better to exist than to not exist

We can rephrase it as a conditional statement:

P2a: If x exists and if y does not then x is better than y

This can be expressed in free logics, but not in classical logics, which isn't a problem for us currently. But if P2a is logically true then the following deduction is formally valid:

P: x exists and y does not
C: x is better than y

In other words if we allow prescriptive statements to yield to logical rules, then we allow the logical rules themselves to be prescriptive.

On the point about whether the religious are stupid or deluded: those who believe in the talking, burning bush or the centrality of humankind in the fabric of the universe do in fact strike me as deluded. This doesn't make them stupid. Freud was right that wish-thinking and fear of mortality are natural elements of the human condition which will never cease. Marx was right that it helps people to bear their burdens (and in so doing, often prevents them from attempting to cast them off). Quine was right that our null-hypothesis is usually just the one we had first. Religion was our first attempt to explain our surroundings. As the first it is the worst, but, as they say, the lasting.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 27th, 2017, 4:02 pm 

Hamlet wrote:There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Nelson Goodman wrote:I am concerned, rather, that there should not be more things dreamt of in my philosophy than there actually are in heaven and earth.

BadgerJelly » November 25th, 2017, 5:19 am wrote:The stars don't exist for ants because they simply don't conceptualise them, just like they don't think about how lovelyyour coffee table is when wandering over it. That is not to say the physical thingness of the table is not there, but it certainly means that the existence of the "table" is absent for the ants.

So "God" exists, and we could even suggest that physical evidence of "god" exists too, but then we'd be talking about a kind of concept of "god" you wouldn't be happy to call a "god".

I do not understand how your second paragraph follows from your first. That the stars do not exist for ants is true. That the stars exist regardless of whether they exist for the ants is also true. It does not follow that everything which does not exist for the ants must exist nonetheless. If it did, you better make room for many more gods than just the one. And they won't be comfortable sharing the space with each other.

BadgerJelly » November 23rd, 2017, 6:25 am wrote:If I was to say that a frog and a horse have four legs and eyes am I saying they are the same?

To that extent. But suppose you call a tail a leg: how many legs does the horse have now?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 27th, 2017, 5:50 pm 

Lomax » November 27th, 2017, 2:57 pm wrote:
mitchellmckain » November 23rd, 2017, 12:30 am wrote:I certainly agree with all of this. Another problem I see is that the P entity is also poorly defined because while we can imagine perfection like an infinite limit on some one dimensional measure, there are far more than one aspect to any being. And if we are striving to describe something good we do not want to go to extremes in all attributes because for some things being good is a matter of having opposing tendencies in balance. Thus I would suggest there is not only a multiplicity of G but also a multiplicity of P, and not everyone is going to choose the same attributes which should be optimized (by some infinite limit) in a being they would respect and admire.

I think we need only say that the perfect being is the one which maximises the sum total of these desirable traits, as much as possible. It's probably nothing the simplex method couldn't deal with.


And how does the simplex method deal with the fact that people will not even agree on the parameters of this optimization. The point was that when it comes to some things like life, worlds, and beings, things like what is good or perfect are somewhat subjective, and thus instead of a singular P we have a multiplicity. Of course there are always people ready to say that their subjective choices and judgments are objective and absolute, but the diversity of such opinions makes this rather unsupportable.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 27th, 2017, 6:50 pm 

That was Hyksos's point. The passage by you, quoted by me, makes the point that there is more than one variable. That the simplex method can deal with. To make our opinions for us is, of course, too much to ask of it.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 27th, 2017, 7:37 pm 

Lomax » November 27th, 2017, 5:50 pm wrote:
mitchellmckain » November 23rd, 2017, 12:30 am wrote:I certainly agree with all of this. Another problem I see is that the P entity is also poorly defined because while we can imagine perfection like an infinite limit on some one dimensional measure, there are far more than one aspect to any being. And if we are striving to describe something good we do not want to go to extremes in all attributes because for some things being good is a matter of having opposing tendencies in balance. Thus I would suggest there is not only a multiplicity of G but also a multiplicity of P, and not everyone is going to choose the same attributes which should be optimized (by some infinite limit) in a being they would respect and admire.

And how does the simplex method deal with the fact that people will not even agree on the parameters of this optimization. The point was that when it comes to some things like life, worlds, and beings, things like what is good or perfect are somewhat subjective, and thus instead of a singular P we have a multiplicity. Of course there are always people ready to say that their subjective choices and judgments are objective and absolute, but the diversity of such opinions makes this rather unsupportable.

That was Hyksos's point. The passage by you, quoted by me, makes the point that there is more than one variable. That the simplex method can deal with. To make our opinions for us is, of course, too much to ask of it.

...sigh...

Whether Hyksos made that point I do not know, but when you read to the end of the quote in question, you see it is there in my comment also. And it is only stated with so few words because it is reiterating a point which I already made earlier in the thread.

Furthermore I was unhappy with the wording of this post and followed it with a rephrase.

I certainly agree with all of this. Another problem I see is that the P entity is also poorly defined because while we can imagine perfection like an infinite limit on some one dimensional measure, there are far more than one aspect to any being. And if we are striving to describe something good we do not want to go to extremes in all attributes because for some things being good is a matter of having opposing tendencies in balance. Thus I would suggest there is not only a multiplicity of G but also a multiplicity of P, and not everyone is going to choose the same attributes which should be maximized in a being they would respect and admire.

But yes, you are right that if it is only a matter of the number of variables, then as long as this number is finite (not certain this is the case) then yes we have optimization methods which can, in theory, handle it (the simplex method not necessarily being the best choice in all cases).
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 27th, 2017, 7:40 pm 

No, I follow. But if the perfect being is the best possible being then it's the sum of all the values of the variables that matters. If the importance of each variable is weighted the yes, the simplex method can handle that.

Whether we know ourselves whether to assign numerical values to our opinions is a bigger problem. But is it? It's not necessary that we agree on all the attributes of the perfect being in order to consider whether there must be a perfect being. Any more than we need to now every town in Italy to know that it exists.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 27th, 2017, 7:58 pm 

Lomax » November 27th, 2017, 6:40 pm wrote:No, I follow. But if the perfect being is the best possible being then it's the sum of all the values of the variables that matters. If the importance of each variable is weighted the yes, the simplex method can handle that.

A best fit to all of the various opinions together is most likely just going to result in something that none of them will agree is "perfect." No I stick to my conclusion that there is a multiplicity of P.

Lomax » November 27th, 2017, 6:40 pm wrote:Whether we know ourselves whether to assign numerical values to our opinions is a bigger problem. But is it? It's not necessary that we agree on all the attributes of the perfect being in order to consider whether there must be a perfect being. Any more than we need to Know every town in Italy to know that it exists.

Well it was already Braininvat's argument (as well as mine) that this argument is over productive of perfect beings (by example of the unicorn). With a multiple of P then the result is that gods exist not a singular God, right? And this was only in addition to the objection made by hyksos with regards to multiple G (creators). The deeper point is that the ontological argument is too easy -- capable of proving practically anything exists.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 27th, 2017, 8:07 pm 

mitchellmckain » November 28th, 2017, 12:58 am wrote:
Lomax » November 27th, 2017, 6:40 pm wrote:No, I follow. But if the perfect being is the best possible being then it's the sum of all the values of the variables that matters. If the importance of each variable is weighted the yes, the simplex method can handle that.

A best fit to all of the various opinions together is most likely just going to result in something that none of them will agree is "perfect." No I stick to my conclusion that there is a multiplicity of P.

I'm not talking about the various opinions; I'm talking about the various "attributes", to use your apposite word.

mitchellmckain » November 28th, 2017, 12:58 am wrote:
Lomax » November 27th, 2017, 6:40 pm wrote:Whether we know ourselves whether to assign numerical values to our opinions is a bigger problem. But is it? It's not necessary that we agree on all the attributes of the perfect being in order to consider whether there must be a perfect being. Any more than we need to Know every town in Italy to know that it exists.

Well it was already Braininvat's argument (as well as mine) that this argument is over productive of perfect beings (by example of the unicorn). With a multiple of P then the result is that gods exist not a singular God, right?

The most it would entail is a disagreement about at least one being. Just as we can disagree about which Italian town is best.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 28th, 2017, 12:50 am 

Sorry a bit of a long and dense post. This is ME through and through, no pretense of theism involved whatsoever.

Lomax -

I'm pleasantly to find this thread is still interesting after five full pages, although if it's a general debate about theism and religion now, we can expect fifty more.


For me this is not a debate about theism or religion.

I do not understand how your second paragraph follows from your first. That the stars do not exist for ants is true. That the stars exist regardless of whether they exist for the ants is also true. It does not follow that everything which does not exist for the ants must exist nonetheless. If it did, you better make room for many more gods than just the one. And they won't be comfortable sharing the space with each other.


It is the sense in which we mean "exist" that was my point, and has been my point from the outset.

I never said that what does not exist for ants must exist nonetheless ... although in some sense I could say such a thing and it would be a perfectly logical statement if you followed it through. I guess this is more clear if you start to view pretty much everything you know as "bundles".

I am not sure why you are bringing "gods" into this? I was trying to say something along the lines of - given that the table is an important part of the ants world and integral to their being - the ants would not conceptualise the "table" as a table, but they would likely look at it as a godlike concept, because they understand a grander scheme beyond their conception. In this respect we all have some general concept that is "godlike". We know this due to limitations.

To the whole issue of ontology and existence, it is like you're trying to forget that ontology is not about defining something physical as existing and something non-physical as not existing. To say such a thing is to say you know positive noumenon (to hark back to Kant.) The point of ontology is to attempt to distinguish the differences between "entities", and these "entities" exist in some manner.

It is not a question of asking if "god" exists, or looking for an "ontological proof". The reality of the situation is that we don't really know what we mean by "god", "exist" or what an "ontological proof" looks like. IF we choose to say an ontological proof is a physical proof then we are defining "existence" as physical substance.

Here is what I imagine you'd refer to as a "hypomanic ramble", and I wrote this not long after I managed to find a way to write something vaguely tangible:

"The illusion man creates only holds for as long as it is associated with actual reality not human reality. In this respect human reality is merely tethered to the overall body of existence.
In the spiritual sense the world humanity perceives is the ethereal spirit world and reality possesses true 'solidity'. Matter is of condensed quality not a pure form of motion within time."

To clarify, I was saying here that what we call reality is merely our best interpretation. We understand what we understand by 'measuring' things as existent. All we know exists and all we pose as not existing exists too because we can grasp toward its ill-formed concept (such as god or unicorn, the later being far easier and the habit of visual resemblance making any representation of the concept "god" less tangible - this is simply due to sensory habit and I would bet that convolutions of sensibility give rise to "religious" and "transcendental" experience, due to breaking the habit of vision. This wouldn't make blind people more prone to such things simply because they rewire and adapt, they can still "see"/"map" the physical impression of the world.)

When I say "spiritual" I didn't mean "soul" or anything like that. I meant transitive knowledge, the projection of being into some impression of the world. It takes very little effort to reverse the idea of what we see as the physical world of objects into a mere façade - I doubt I am alone here? - here the weight of existence (the physical correlated to the mental, the objective correlated to the subjective) can be flipped. So we're left with the imagination as possessing more "true" existence than the mere sensory impression of "existence".

This is not to create any kind of dualism (and is what the last sentence above refers to) it is the means with which to dispel the illusion of dualism and put the illusion to use as a "unitation", something wholly unquantifiable. The "thing" you sense is merely an accumulation of "qualities". The illusion is to say "That is a table", but there is quite plainly no such thing as table, it is merely exists as a quality of human action bound in a human narrative, there is no "table", yet we literally see "a table" not because it is there in reality, but merely because it exists as part of the human narrative of reality.

Human reality consists of matter, time and space. The unification I personally refer to as "god", although I don't actually call it such but most definitely understand that when other talk about such things they are essentially referring to this albeit in a disassociated manner due to dualistic or physical concepts that best help them navigate through the narrative of their lives.

In the most simple terms possible I could just as well say that no one knows what existence is and if we try and frame the meaning of perfection we suffer due to our not being able to know what existence is. These are questions better suited to ambiguity and approximations of art and beauty. For practical purposes we can choose to frame the concepts of "exist" to suit our immediate aims of investigation and simply parse "non-existent" as meaning something more like "absent". It could be a whole lot more useful to think of non-existent as meaning absence of knowledge. The ants lacks the knowledge of "table" therefore it is not bound by the same physical demarcations (which means its unbound and infinite - non-existent for the ant.)

ps. PM me your number. You owe me a Guinness!

Mitch -

We all think we hold the "middle ground". Not a single person can disagree with what I say above if they understand it. They can most certainly probe areas where the explication is lacking, there are many gaps and pitfalls. The beauty of this language is that we can do so many incredible things with it and even bring up the very idea of something "not existing". My point is that by doing so we fall prey to language and can easily let the meaning of such a statement slip by unnoticed. For if we are talking about "non-existence" what is it we claim to be talking about? Here is where many a mystic falls of the map of language and desperately flails around for some applicable analogy or metaphor that they can best give over the gist of their thoughts to. If you then contemplate this and look upon every word in the English language a whole tapestry of metaphors and analogies begin to announce themselves to you as mere metaphors and analogies of quality, so I say "Matter is of condensed quality not a pure form of motion within time." I am still struggling to untangle the concept of time and its been the hardest thing of all to distinguish within the scheme of language.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 28th, 2017, 4:43 am 

BadgerJelly » November 27th, 2017, 11:50 pm wrote:Mitch -

We all think we hold the "middle ground".

Huh? Why are you making an absolute out of this? I was speaking of you and Neri only. I certainly do not hold a middle ground in any absolute sense or between any two positions. For example I do not hold a middle ground between Platonic idealism and Scientific realism -- I reject Platonic idealism utterly. Nor am I seeking a middle ground all the time -- I just think that is where I am with regards to the contention between you too.

BadgerJelly » November 27th, 2017, 11:50 pm wrote: Not a single person can disagree with what I say above if they understand it.

I can only believe that is true if you are not actually saying anything. But perhaps you underestimate the diversity of human thought, assuming you are not willfully blinding yourself to it.

BadgerJelly » November 27th, 2017, 11:50 pm wrote:For if we are talking about "non-existence" what is it we claim to be talking about?

I can think of a couple possibilities.
1. We could be talking about a logical contradiction which means a better definition of the thing is in order.
2. We could be talking about something which is not a part of the space-time structure of the physical universe. For example, physicists will tell you that perpetual motion machines do no exist.

When we found agreement above, it was because I made a distinction between something we can talk about and something which is a part of our life. The former may not exist because logical contradictions are possible in the things we say. But the latter is more meaningfully a matter of understanding what is this thing which is a part of our life, rather than the largely nonsensical question of whether it exists.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 28th, 2017, 5:38 am 

Mitch -

My mistake. I dropped a question mark in where it was meant to be a rhetorical question. Either way, you can quite obviously make a claim on what "non-existent" means and that is my point. The mystic would "fall of the map" by making a strange attempt to refer to the "non-existent" as a concept that cannot be communicated to another through language, only adumbrated. The mystic therefore cannot operate within the limits of logic, yet does not have to dismiss logic out of hand (which I would honestly say the religious zealots do even though someone here seemed to believe religion adhere to the logical principles in order to claim existence of god ... kind of weird and funny if it wasn't quite so dreadfully confused. Meaning to employ confusion and then make logical claims over this confusion doesn't ring true to the logical framework, it would be best to understand that the very limitations of logic is being brought under investigation rather than some contrary attempt to dismiss logic on one hand and then use it to fight your corner in the other. Which says a great deal more than nothing at all!)

to add ...

I can only believe that is true if you are not actually saying anything. But perhaps you underestimate the diversity of human thought, assuming you are not willfully blinding yourself to it.


YES! But can you see why the first sentence rings truer than the second. Meaning it is not what I am saying it is what I mean that counts. This is not something I can put into words though and I can but hope you're creative enough to take the sentence as I wrote it and pry meaning "through"/"past" it.

I have willfully blinded myself to the diversity of human thought in the past due to fear of my own intellect and my own capacity. I shirked the responsibility and refused to really push myself for fear of failure and due to large amounts of arrogance. Now I just have to plainly admit to myself that I'm smarter and more capable than the average guy in general, so its damn well about time I put my will to use rather than sit around rotting pretending I cannot do anything of value.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 28th, 2017, 11:39 am 

BadgerJelly » November 28th, 2017, 5:50 am wrote:I am not sure why you are bringing "gods" into this?


"Bringing them in"?! They have been here since the thread's creation. They are its prime movers. Its first cause.

Et pardon, Monsieur Gelée de Blaireau; but you did not answer my question about the horse's legs.

BadgerJelly » November 28th, 2017, 5:50 am wrote:Here is what I imagine you'd refer to as a "hypomanic ramble"

Mercy! I would scant resort to such gutter tactics. I am not qualified to diagnose mental illness, let alone to do so in order to belittle a debating opponent.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Braininvat on November 28th, 2017, 2:42 pm 

"Bringing them in"?! They have been here since the thread's creation. They are its prime movers. Its first cause.


We must always control our demiurges.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 29th, 2017, 3:43 am 

Lomax -

What I meant was that paragraph was dense and I can relate to the meaning of it more than anyone else. I wrote it in what would most commonly be referred to as a state of hypomania (or at the very least my disposition at the time if I was to describe to someone would be deemed "hypomanic").

I wouldn't consider it an "illness" though. I just happen to be somewhere on the fringes of "normal" in a few respects, and those few respects are more prominently noticeable in todays society enough for many people to sometimes view me as "quirky", "weird" or "eccentric".

Do I need to answer about the horse legs? I see what you're saying and it falls in line with use of language and kineaesthetic narrative (bodily narrative) on a functional basis. Much like when an immovable object meets and unstoppable force ... what happens is the concepts of each are altered to accommodate what happens, its ignored (due to lack of comprehension), or/and new concepts are brought into the lingual domain. I cannot see how this in anyway would make up some form of dualism between epistemic and ontic inquiry? For sure it is a useful delineation, but it certainly isn't one that can be cut along a singular plane of thought (so to speak.)

What is framed as physically pragmatic is useful (obviously). This is because it is less practical to investigate the margin of error if the pattern of data presents itself to us. General rules are more applicable to general human life. The subtleties are finer points we may not be able to grasp at in any physically pragmatic sense.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 29th, 2017, 8:09 am 

Mein Gott. Must I read four paragraphs of mental health self-assessment and point-missing in the Homeric quest to discover I cannot get a straight answer to a straight question? My point about gutter tactics was aimed at the people bandying about the word "schizophrenia" in this thread as though it were an heuristic tool. I bring up the difference between epistemology and ontology only because you keep accusing me of being a physicalist despite the fact that I already stated earlier in this thread that I am not. I only referenced physicality in the first place in reply to your claim of it. The point is that one need not be a strict physicalist in order to be an evidentialist or an empiricist, or a believer in rigorous logic and joined-up thinking, or in coherent sentences, so all this stuff you aim at us about confusing "existence" with "physical existence" is not just a straw man but something of an own goal, in light of your own claims about the "physical manifestation" of "gods" (who you now want to airbrush out of the debate about them). Nowhere does the ontological argument use the word "physical", or anything equivalent, either, and God knows St. Anselm was not a physicalist. Deep breath. I take it you are already familiar with the punchline about the horse, so hopefully you can infer my point about trying to define things into existence.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 29th, 2017, 11:58 am 

Lomax -

I wasn't aware I had accused you of anything. I did say this though:

To the whole issue of ontology and existence, it is like you're trying to forget that ontology is not about defining something physical as existing and something non-physical as not existing. To say such a thing is to say you know positive noumenon (to hark back to Kant.) The point of ontology is to attempt to distinguish the differences between "entities", and these "entities" exist in some manner.


Accusation? I guess so. I thought it was clear enough that I was not saying accusing you of being a physicalist.

I didn't write four paragraphs above that were a "mental health assessment". I presented words I wrote years ago and made clear they were from a particular mental state, and then tried to explain why I felt they were significant here. You then decided to take those words and make them partly offensive to yourself and then turn them back on me. I don't believe I said "schitzophrenia" anywhere here? Maybe I did, but I can't see where? If I did there would have been a point.

I then explained (see above - there are two, short, paragraphs). I then give you the answer you asked for.

The issue about airbrushing out gods is just nonsense. I was posing a refutation against the Question. The question of gods existence, it being presented, as a physical god. I have, from the very start (and right through my sham attempt at taking up the religious position), asked for a definition of "god" and "exist". The very fact that the question is set as an ontological question makes it empty, because the ontic involves exploring what is meant by "exist". It is illogical to talk about the existence of something we have not defined, and equally contrary to talk about its "existence" when we are unsure of what we mean by "existence".

If you want to know what I meant those pages back ask away. For a reminder I said these things:

I would say that if I can think of something then I can bring about its physical manifestation in way or another, and what is more I MUST do this by my ability to do so.


Then this ...

I don't mean I can physically conjure up some dragon or something. I just mean that I require the ability to physically attach some idea to matter in order for me to think of it is the first place. Not only this, I MUST render it physically in some fashion for it to be known or it cannot be known.


And this ...

I am a phenomenologist (for want of a better term), so when you make comments about subject and object I just find it closed minded and deeply misguided when you assume I am insinuating some kind of magical land of make believe.

Objects are objects. Imagined or material they are not separate or you're just carrying on the age old tradition of dualism in its scientific guise.


And MOST IMPORTANTLY:

note: I am just trying to give you as best an argument as I can. Much of what I am saying here I do hold to though and I am saying it because I get tired of seeing very immobile refutations about religion and such things that involve some very strange.


And that Mitch pointed out was where a glitch occurred and I cannot remember the precise sentence that finished that thought.

Maybe after all this it may simply boil down to me not understanding what an ontological proof is. In which case explain it to me :)
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 29th, 2017, 7:11 pm 

BadgerJelly » November 29th, 2017, 10:58 am wrote:Accusation? I guess so. I thought it was clear enough that I was not saying accusing you of being a physicalist.

I don't see anything of the sort. Some of the participants here may be excessively accusatory but you are not one of them... If anything I would say you are a little bit too conciliatory. Which just goes to show that some people will see accusation, evasion and insult with very little cause to do so. Perhaps they feel the need to defend even if they have to make up something to defend against.

BadgerJelly » November 29th, 2017, 10:58 am wrote:I didn't write four paragraphs above that were a "mental health assessment". I presented words I wrote years ago and made clear they were from a particular mental state, and then tried to explain why I felt they were significant here. You then decided to take those words and make them partly offensive to yourself and then turn them back on me. I don't believe I said "schitzophrenia" anywhere here? Maybe I did, but I can't see where? If I did there would have been a point.

You didn't, Lomax was just bandying the word about as a heuristic tool in a general rant simply to complain that you didn't answer his question about the tail of a horse being defined as a leg -- a question which seemed largely rhetorical to me. It was also, whether his intention or not, an invitation for me to make a comment since I am the one who used the word in this thread -- although it was "schizophrenia" not "schitzophrenia," which spellcheckers agree is the correct spelling. Perhaps this is a dirty word to the mental illness phobic or those who are offended by the idea that anyone would believe something is real when it doesn't fit their own particular criterion for reality. But I see no reason to avoid it.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 29th, 2017, 7:42 pm 

The invitation certainly was my intention. It seems to have been declined.

Badger: yes, that was the quotation about my alleged physicalism I had in mind.

I don't agree with your argument that you must "render it physically in some fashion for it to be known or it cannot be known." There are many ways an empiricist can argue for non-physical existence - take the indispensability argument for example. At any rate I haven't argued for physicalism, and neither had St. Anselm. The argument is called the Ontological Argument because he is arguing that something exists; not because he is exploring the question of what existence is. Which may by all means be explored - but his argument presupposes some notion of existence in order to lay out its premises. What Neri and I propose is that the argument is poor logic regardless of its notion of existence. To say that anything you can imagine thereby exists is a different (Parminidean) argument altogether, and doesn't put the perfect being on any special footing.

I think I also see an inconsistency in your assumptions: you say against my supposed attempt to "forget" that ontology is different from physicalism that "to say such a thing is to say you know positive noumenon (to hark back to Kant.)" Elsewhere you say "objects are objects. Imagined or material they are not separate or you're just carrying on the age old tradition of dualism in its scientific guise." You'll tell me if it's unfair of me to take this as a criticism of such dualism. But how does this dualism differ from your tacit claim that noumena are different to phenomena? It seems to me essentially the same idea - that the stuff in your mind is different in its metaphysical form to the stuff outside of it.

For what it's worth I think one need not be a mind-body dualist in order to say that unreal things can be imagined. We need only say that the mental "image" of the thing (composed, if you like, of physical stuff, or of the same underlying stuff from which the physical world is made) is not the thing. In other words imagining France doesn't cause France to exist; it only causes my imagination of France to exist. The France in my head is not the actual France. This point surely stands or falls to the same extent, regardless of whether one is a monist or a dualist. You conceded a similar distinction earlier in the thread ('So "God" exists, and we could even suggest that physical evidence of "god" exists too, but then we'd be talking about a kind of concept of "god" you wouldn't be happy to call a "god".'), but this would be enough render your argument useless to Anselm or, surely, to the cause of theism more generally. It doesn't give it any uncommon ground with atheism (in the same way that "2+2=4" does not; it is irrelevant).
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 29th, 2017, 11:06 pm 

Lomax » November 29th, 2017, 6:42 pm wrote:The invitation certainly was my intention. It seems to have been declined.

I saw an invitation to comment and I did so, but you seem to see things on some abstract plane - an invitation not elaborated upon in the words written... or an accusation using a definition of physicalism I have never heard of before. Without explication, I suppose the only way to respond to this request is to comment more and either hit or miss and possibly get more clues as to what you want me to comment on.

Lomax » November 29th, 2017, 6:42 pm wrote:I don't agree with your argument that you must "render it physically in some fashion for it to be known or it cannot be known." There are many ways an empiricist can argue for non-physical existence - take the indispensability argument for example.

I had no objection to the comment of BJ precisely because I am a physicalist with respect to the mind-body problem. If the mind is a physical existence then how can it know something unless this is rendered or encoded into some physical form? But you must understand this statement in some entirely different way that I cannot grasp in order to connect it with the "many ways an empiricist can argue for non-physical existence."

But nevertheless, I would not equate this with physicalism...

Lomax » November 29th, 2017, 6:42 pm wrote:What Neri and I propose is that the argument is poor logic regardless of its notion of existence. To say that anything you can imagine thereby exists is a different (Parminidean) argument altogether, and doesn't put the perfect being on any special footing.

Agreed.

Lomax » November 29th, 2017, 6:42 pm wrote:For what it's worth I think one need not be a mind-body dualist in order to say that unreal things can be imagined.

Agreed... who wouldn't?

P.S. During my diggings in deciding what to say here (yes I often do research before making comments rather than speaking from the top of my head), I noticed that phenomenology was a field of study rather than a philosophical position. This would mean that when someone says they are a phenomenologist they are not telling us what they believe but what interests them.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 30th, 2017, 1:46 am 

Lomax -

I think I also see an inconsistency in your assumptions: you say against my supposed attempt to "forget" that ontology is different from physicalism that "to say such a thing is to say you know positive noumenon (to hark back to Kant.)" Elsewhere you say "objects are objects. Imagined or material they are not separate or you're just carrying on the age old tradition of dualism in its scientific guise." You'll tell me if it's unfair of me to take this as a criticism of such dualism. But how does this dualism differ from your tacit claim that noumena are different to phenomena? It seems to me essentially the same idea - that the stuff in your mind is different in its metaphysical form to the stuff outside of it.


This has been an ongoing issue, the old misunderstanding of what Kant meant by positive noumenon (which is not surprising given that talking about it makes it what it is not, it is borderline mysticism if you fail to appreciate epistemic problem; to talk of absence as meaning the same as nothing - leave that point there for now or I'll likely not be able to stay on track). If you understand the way Kantian framed this you'd understand that there is no dualism here. The point is the emphasis on noumenon as "positive" and "negative".

What I meant was we're condition by scientific tradition to view the world as physical. In an attempt to put this simplistically, science condenses phenomenon and makes it as if it is a purely objective substance, and the rest is left out of frame or dismissed as "noise", or such. Physics creates meta-physics, it creates the impression of dualism and its use has excelled human society so much that its roots are hidden. Science exists as part of the instigation of the dualistic principle first put down.

The bit in bold. Well, no. How could it be so? Solipsism is the easiest way to view this. This goes back to the whole "table" notion. There is no table there, there is only a human disposition to "narrate" (kineaesthetically "position"), and we narrate items as special, temporal and substance. What space, time and matter is, and what I am saying underneath all of this, is that they are qualitities in the guise of quantities. Quantities are the convenience of the human condition (or rather they are the human condition), all we "know" we know about we know about, in our "aboutness", in an emotional context (human context). The physical is taken on as apodictic in an objective manner and it functions well enough for method to arise and science to stand above subjectivity even though it is itself merely a bracketing of subjective being, not in anyway a holding of noumenon in a positive sense, but set up in such a manner as to appear to be positive noumenon and to make an equivalence between "positive noumenon" and "physical reality" - this may very well not be something you are guilty of, but it is something Neri has shown on more than one occasion in the past; to be fair I do think I remember myself and Neri came to some understanding, but remained essentially at loggerheads.

If you say you haven't argued for physicalism, okay. Maybe I have made the error of confusing your side of the argument with Neri's general position. It happens. Regardless, from what you've said above I still have some suspicions. I don't see how anyone can hold to any particular "-ism" fully, so I guess I see a slightly skewed view on your part relative to mine and I may be completely wrong about this. If we can iron out some understanding then that would be great, if not, then that would be great too.

The invitation certainly was my intention. It seems to have been declined.


Not declined, just postponed. If your question was simply "What did you mean?" then I can make some attempts to explain further (it does not end in any particular conclusion though, just a number of questions and different ideas of attack toward the problems unearthed.) If you wish to pose a question directly rather than ask for an explanation then I'll try that too. The more I write the more I seem to be able to make things more verbally tangible, to myself at least! haha!

For what it's worth I think one need not be a mind-body dualist in order to say that unreal things can be imagined


Well, yeah! This is how understanding works. We set demarcations in order to distinguish entities, otherwise there would be no entities nor any entity. The confusion comes when we then approach this parse and know ourselves as "entity" and do so by our "limits" framed as "extensions".

It is not useless to the issue of an ontological proof. It is the bedrock upon which the proof stands.

The argument is called the Ontological Argument because he is arguing that something exists; not because he is exploring the question of what existence is.


This is where I cannot agree and will fight to the death against. I guess this is the major point of contention.

Anselm makes the point that God existing in reality is "greater" than God existing in the imagination. He hides the question of what constitutes "reality". He presents the idea of the physical world as being "greater" than the imagined world.

What Neri and I propose is that the argument is poor logic regardless of its notion of existence. To say that anything you can imagine thereby exists is a different (Parminidean) argument altogether, and doesn't put the perfect being on any special footing.


Well, anything you imagine does exist. What seems to be the issue is the sense in which we're choosing to frame the term "exists". "Reality" is just another placeholder for "existence". This is why I wrote about some "actual reality" and "human reality", they are delineations of understanding not "real" delineations. The confusion and, ironically, the usefulness, come from depreciating the 'unitation' (this I mean as neither, and both, "unit" as a unit of plural, and unit as singular) of reality. That is pretty much where I only have various strands to pick up and question, there is no conclusive point to end on, only many possible things to look at.

note: I have done my best to be clear. What I have said is what I truly find fascinating and what I generally think about everyday. None of the above is presented merely as a means to progress some form of argument and none of it has come easily to me.

Neri, Biv, Mitch -

Maybe it would be worth starting another thread and moving this on down the timeline? We could get some serious mileage out of this if we follow it all the way through to Godel?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 30th, 2017, 4:40 am 

mitchellmckain » November 30th, 2017, 4:06 am wrote:
Lomax » November 29th, 2017, 6:42 pm wrote:The invitation certainly was my intention. It seems to have been declined.

I saw an invitation to comment and I did so, but you seem to see things on some abstract plane - an invitation not elaborated upon in the words written... or an accusation using a definition of physicalism I have never heard of before. Without explication, I suppose the only way to respond to this request is to comment more and either hit or miss and possibly get more clues as to what you want me to comment on.

As usual we crossed in an edit. Perhaps I need a one-hour rule to let you finish deciding what to add to your posts before I respond.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 30th, 2017, 4:47 am 

BadgerJelly » November 30th, 2017, 6:46 am wrote:
The invitation certainly was my intention. It seems to have been declined.


Not declined, just postponed. If your question was simply "What did you mean?" then I can make some attempts to explain further (it does not end in any particular conclusion though, just a number of questions and different ideas of attack toward the problems unearthed.)

Mitchellmckain's enlisting of the serious matter of schizophrenia in an attempt (which I am sure he will try to deny) to undermine Neri struck me as both frivolous and puerile. I took your harmless mention of hypomania as an opportunity to express my disdain for that. It went over your head, so I should have been clearer. It didn't go over his, so I'll settle for that.

BadgerJelly » November 30th, 2017, 6:46 am wrote:note: I have done my best to be clear.

I'm sorry to say vast swathes of your post are opaque to me. I take your point about the Proslogion arguing that the real thing is better than the imagined (in Anselm's case, he cites the fulfillment of artistic vision). But if demarcations are as important as you seem to say, surely this one is particularly indispensable? It's all very well to say that the imagined world is real too, but we do operate daily on the understanding of a difference between what's "in" our heads and what's put in to practice. If your boss sets you a deadline I am sure you do not settle for saying "well I thought about doing it".

The point stands that the ontological argument itself is what the OP addresses. Its circularity (or non-circularity, if anybody says so) will remain untouched by the meaning of "exist". The point about formal validity is that it only depends on form, not on content. What we understand by "exist" will affect the soundness of the premises, which I think are (for other reasons) the real weak spots of the argument - but that's another question.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 30th, 2017, 5:51 am 

Lomax -

I would be surprised if parts were not opaque.

At least we have an idea of where the problem is between us. I will maintain that the meaning of "exist" matters a lot. I admit I am a little confused as to has you can say it "remains untouched", but then point to the premises.

I guess you see my point as much as I see yours here? Godel seemed to have gone more into the point of "existence" regarding this question. As presented by Anselm the question is more about an investigation into "limit".

There is the complication of proposing the multiverse and saying everything exists somewhere, and then we cannot say anything does not exist only that it is absent. If I were to be purposefully argumentative and deceitful I would perhaps say something like "If I imagine it then is exists somewhere." This for me unearths the problem of positional relations.

Anyway, I would like to know if you understood this bit at least (especially the bold):

Quantities are the convenience of the human condition (or rather they are the human condition), all we "know" we know about we know about, in our "aboutness", in an emotional context (human context). The physical is taken on as apodictic in an objective manner and it functions well enough for method to arise and science to stand above subjectivity even though it is itself merely a bracketing of subjective being, not in anyway a holding of noumenon in a positive sense, but set up in such a manner as to appear to be positive noumenon and to make an equivalence between "positive noumenon" and "physical reality"


It is certainly very much like something Heidegger would write (I wouldn't be surprised if he wrote practically the very same sentence somewhere!), but I am not massively fond of his, whatg I regard as, purposefully opaque style. If you don't quite understand then just understand I use "about" in a means that makes no distinction between "outer"/"inner", I mean it in a phenomenological sense, meaning to set aside "positional" relations. Simply because it is better than saying "I am IN the world", and I prefer it is more genuine to say "I am ABOUT the world."

Maybe a lot of what I do is just creating my own sets of terminology in order to order my thinking. It may all just turn out to be nothing of use and something I'll have to disregard. I am aware of this, but to date I seem to be making steady, if somewhat staggered, headway.

I am looking forward to reading a few things I think will help me express them more clearly. In the mean time I just plod on.

Anyway, off to work soon. Please keep on at me if oyu have the resolve :)
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 30th, 2017, 5:51 am 

Lomax -

I would be surprised if parts were not opaque.

At least we have an idea of where the problem is between us. I will maintain that the meaning of "exist" matters a lot. I admit I am a little confused as to has you can say it "remains untouched", but then point to the premises.

I guess you see my point as much as I see yours here? Godel seemed to have gone more into the point of "existence" regarding this question. As presented by Anselm the question is more about an investigation into "limit".

There is the complication of proposing the multiverse and saying everything exists somewhere, and then we cannot say anything does not exist only that it is absent. If I were to be purposefully argumentative and deceitful I would perhaps say something like "If I imagine it then is exists somewhere." This for me unearths the problem of positional relations.

Anyway, I would like to know if you understood this bit at least (especially the bold):

Quantities are the convenience of the human condition (or rather they are the human condition), all we "know" we know about we know about, in our "aboutness", in an emotional context (human context). The physical is taken on as apodictic in an objective manner and it functions well enough for method to arise and science to stand above subjectivity even though it is itself merely a bracketing of subjective being, not in anyway a holding of noumenon in a positive sense, but set up in such a manner as to appear to be positive noumenon and to make an equivalence between "positive noumenon" and "physical reality"


It is certainly very much like something Heidegger would write (I wouldn't be surprised if he wrote practically the very same sentence somewhere!), but I am not massively fond of his, whatg I regard as, purposefully opaque style. If you don't quite understand then just understand I use "about" in a means that makes no distinction between "outer"/"inner", I mean it in a phenomenological sense, meaning to set aside "positional" relations. Simply because it is better than saying "I am IN the world", and I prefer it is more genuine to say "I am ABOUT the world."

Maybe a lot of what I do is just creating my own sets of terminology in order to order my thinking. It may all just turn out to be nothing of use and something I'll have to disregard. I am aware of this, but to date I seem to be making steady, if somewhat staggered, headway.

I am looking forward to reading a few things I think will help me express them more clearly. In the mean time I just plod on.

Anyway, off to work soon. Please keep on at me if oyu have the resolve :)
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 30th, 2017, 6:29 am 

BadgerJelly » November 30th, 2017, 10:51 am wrote:There is the complication of proposing the multiverse and saying everything exists somewhere, and then we cannot say anything does not exist only that it is absent. If I were to be purposefully argumentative and deceitful I would perhaps say something like "If I imagine it then is exists somewhere." This for me unearths the problem of positional relations.

Are we talking David Kellogg Lewis or Rick and Morty? I do have a problem with modal realism in that it wipes the distinction between possible and actual. Lewis argues that it's a violation of Occamism to say we have possible "stuff" and actual "stuff" - another unnecessary dualism - but the "stuff" is just us, the observers. It would be somewhat overly Occamistic to claim that nobody is observing anything, I feel.

BadgerJelly » November 30th, 2017, 10:51 am wrote:I will maintain that the meaning of "exist" matters a lot. I admit I am a little confused as to has you can say it "remains untouched", but then point to the premises.

Circularity is just a question of the structure of the argument. That is to say, we only need to understand the syntax, not the meaning of the words used. We can test

P1. All A are B
P2. All B are C
C. All A are C


Without knowing what A, B or C are. "Exist" might be argued to be a special case because it is part of the "logical lexicon" (like "all" and "are"), which is sort of what Kant was trying to say about it; but now that we have free logics I don't think this objection holds.

When I point to the premises I am saying the real issue with the ontological argument is its soundness, not its validity. In other words the argument may not be "illogical", beyond the fact that it assumes what it sets out to prove. What we need to consider is whether those assumptions are correct. But that is another question; not one of "illogic". If we decide the premises are true then it doesn't matter that the ontological argument is circular (for, if it is, it will still follow that the conclusion is true). If they are false then we don't need to worry about whether the ontological argument is logically rigorous.

And no, I don't understand the passage you emboldened, I'm afraid.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 30th, 2017, 11:06 am 

Don't be scared! :P
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 30th, 2017, 3:13 pm 

Lomax » November 30th, 2017, 3:47 am wrote:I'm sorry to say vast swathes of your post are opaque to me.

It is a problem I frequently have with BJ's posts. I already told him that if I cannot attach meaning to what posts, then I will simply ignore it.

BadgerJelly » November 30th, 2017, 4:51 am wrote:I would be surprised if parts were not opaque.

That doesn't speak well of your efforts to communicate.

I suggested before that the poetic bent tends to focus more on provoking thought rather than actually communicating something. I cannot say that I have much taste for poetry, however. I find sufficient reason for thought in clear communication of prose.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Neri on November 30th, 2017, 8:06 pm 

To All,

Having lost interest in the present question, I have over the last week or so devoted myself to other matters.

Today, I read the latest comments, including those of our learned moderator, but find that I have nothing to add on the actual issues. However, I will indulge myself in a few general remarks.

Previously, I observed:

“In some cases, questions are unavoidably complex. However, the existence of God is not one of them. The practice of spinning complexity into this question inevitably leads to obfuscation.”

Some of the recent posts have demonstrated the wisdom of these remarks. Indeed, the matter at hand has been propelled into Neverland on the winds of bloviations signifying next to nothing. [However, I should say in fairness that Lomax has made a valiant effort to steer the discussion on a meaningful course—sadly, with little success.]

At the end of one of his longer letters, Abraham Lincoln wrote: “I apologize for not having the time to write a shorter letter.” As a lawyer, he understood that it was better to express one’s self clearly, briefly and to the point but that this is not always easy.

Experience teaches that one whose diction consistently fails to meet this standard likely does not know what he is talking about.

When a witness under cross-examination protests that the lawyer is twisting things, that is precisely when things are being untwisted. That has not been only my experience but also that of most other lawyers.

Unfortunately, continental philosophy has engaged in a kind of calculated opacity, as if obfuscation itself was a virtue. I, for one, believe that if a philosophical idea cannot be expressed clearly, it is not worth hearing. Of course, I may be wrong, but more than seven decades in this veil of tears have given me that firm conviction.

This concludes my comments in this thread.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 30th, 2017, 8:41 pm 

Mitch -

In fairness what I was referring to was not poetic. It was purely technical and I even referred to the kind of philosophical style it was like. If you'd read Heidegger's Being and Time it would have been much easier to understand.

I will try and rephrase that section and see if its better understood.

If you haven't noticed my posts are getting longer now. This is because I am trying to say exactly want I mean as concisely as possible. The problem is finding a happy medium where I am not writing too much, but still getting at least the gist across. With practice I will, and have, improved.

There are likely about a dozen contentious points in what I've written. The semantic juggling is the biggest problem. There are so many subtleties in philosophical jargon that one misplaced word can lead the reader off in a completely different direction.
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