Message: "McJim" returns: in regards to the discussions I have missed
Date: Apr 18 1997 4:58PM
I have been away working long hours and will be away again until next Friday. I'm surprised to see how long a discussion has ensued. I've read every post on this thread. I think it was a bit inevitable that a discussion about psychology would ultimately lead back to the basic metaphysical questions that underlie it all. Whether the subject is psychology, ethics, or God, the issues will ultimately be the same.
In reading the posts, the primary thing I think that ancient wisdom is missing is that the ontological proof does not require anything more than itself to be true. Ultimately, there is no question of its truth because every so-called doubt of it is itself self-contradictory and incoherent.
None of us dispute the circularity of the argument. In Alex's lingo, the circularity is evidence of tautology; and in his mathematical understanding of the universe, tautology adds nothing. In Jeff's quandry, he wonders if one could demonstrate a connection between the obvious coherence of the argument for "necessary existence" and its correspondence to reality. ancient wisdom takes the circularity as the most obvious evidence that such an argument is vicious and proof of its expression of nothing. In other words, ancient wisdom agrees with Alex, and Jeff shares the concern of everyone that whatever the validity of the epistemic claims within the logical framework, there may not be any correspondence to reality. Everyone but myself worries that the menu may not be the meal.
This, as I have stated in many other places, is the fallacy of placing epistemology as prior to metaphysics as if it were really possible to discuss how we know that something exists without first having something that exists. Let's put this a very different way, yet entirely the same way.
The rational is the real, and the real is the rational.
This is my most basic assumption, and I think it's the one that troubles Jeff the most in being able to accept the ontological argument. For him, the ontological argument certainly is rational, but is it also real? Such questions ultimately are meaningless, Jeff. Can you ask such a question without the rational sharing some part of reality? Or, do all such questions come from nowhere? There is no discussion without "the is" first. There is no proof without first grasping that what asks for proof is itself real and comes from the real. Instead of the need to prove what is real, we must recognize that the only question that ultimately gives us food for thought is "What is the nature of the real?" We get nowhere asking whether the real is necessarily real or not or whether the real corresponds or not because we cannot truly question whether there is such a thing without also assuming it. Asking for anything more than necessary coherence from a proof is self-contradictory nonsense.
It is certainly true that some coherent thoughts ask for correspondence. We call such thoughts contingent thoughts. And, we know the distinction simply by grasping the nature of the being we think about. What does its nature require?
To Alex: once more, tautology adds nothing except a new expression of what we already know. 1+1=2 is tautological (Kant's analysis--or synthesis--aside) and yet grasping the connection in this expression may prove to quench the hunger of our passions. The search for new knowledge in the absolute sense is not what I am after. It is not at all possible. It's the love of dialectic and dialogue, the passion, the yearning to talk with the nature of things, the rejoicing, the love of wisdom, which is what I'm after. The philosopher loves wisdom--he/she does not need to bother to prove whether such a thing exists anymore than tautologically. Philosophy is the love of the "is" of Being. Anything more makes no more sense then jumping off a building that is not a building.