Sunday, February 8, 2009

Always remember...

...this much you know about yourself, in yourself:

...material systems, [advocates of modern Mechanistic Philosophy] tell us, are utterly devoid of final causality; but the mind is the clearest paradigm of final causality [viz., intentionality and rational desire]; hence the mind cannot possibly be any kind of material system, including the brain.

-- Edward Feser, The Last Superstition, p. 194

And to cite a work Feser references in TLS, on a similar theme:

… Heterogeneity of parts is required for the very possibility of that causality operating on itself which characterizes the growth of living beings.

For the same reason it is necessary that the heterogeneous parts of the living being make up a certain order. The notion of order is inseparable from that causality, which is itself an order of dependence. That which is cause under a certain aspect can be effect under another. The ability of a living being to move itself, even though it be only to assimilate and grow, involves therefore the organization of heterogeneous parts of which it is composed. This is why one says of living bodies that they are organisms or that living matter is organic [organiseé]. The finalism of Aristotle is an attempt to give a reason for the very existence of this organization.

Aristotle is often reproached for his anthropomorphism, that is to say, for his habit of considering nature from man's point of view. If to do so is an error, the reproach is justified, but Aristotle's attitude in this regard had nothing naive in it. He was conscious of it, just as he was of the reasons for adopting it. At the moment he begins the study of the parts of animals, he declares straightforwardly: "to begin with, we must take into consideration the parts of man. For, just as each nation reckons by that monetary standard with which it is most familiar, so must we do in other matters. And, of course, man is the animal with which are all most familiar [History of Animals, 491a]."

At first sight there is something disconcerting in this naivete. It seems far too simple to evaluate the parts of other animals in terms of those of the human body…. Upon reflection, however, is something to be said in favor of this proposition, for in a certain sense it is true. It is not necessarily that man may be better known to us than the rest [of creation], but, to begin with, whatever object is considered, the knowledge that we have of it is human knowledge which expresses itself in some human language; and, next, the knowledge which man has of himself, imperfect as it may be, is by nature privileged. In knowing himself man knows nature in a unique way, because in this unique case the nature that he knows, he is. In and through the knowledge which man has of himself nature knows herself directly; she becomes conscious of herself in him, self-conscious one might say, and there is strictly nothing else that man can hope to know in this way. Even other men … remain for him parts of the "external world." In fact, all the rest of the universe is and remains for him the external world. Since then there is no other knowledge for each of us other than our own knowledge, things known exist for us only in relation to ourselves, and among these things there is only one that we can apprehend directly in itself, and that is what we are and what each calls "I," "me."

… To explain heterogeneous parts by the same principles which explain homogeneous parts is to leave deliberately unexplained the heterogeneity of the heterogeneous.

–– Étienne Gilson, From Aristotle to Darwin and Back Again (University of Notre Dame Press, 1984), pp. 3–5

And again on page 97, Gilson comments:

…we should repeat that man is a part of nature, that he is a unique case in nature, a nature which knows itself from within, and that through man who is part of nature she knows herself directly from within. Everything happens as if, in producing man endowed with reason, nature continued, under the form of the production of the artisan, the work which she performed until then physiologically. It is a mistaken anthropomorphism to reason as if the two finalities worked in the same manner, as if nature fashioned an eye in the same manner that an optician fashions a telescope. But it is perhaps a legitimate anthropomorphism to think that two series of operations of analogous structure, and leading to comparable results, are in the last analysis of the same nature. Human craftsmanship continues the works of nature, and at times completes it, by entirely different means.

18 comments:

unBeguiled said...

Wow. Have you really read this book? Here is my favorite quote:

"Our story then is one of a steady ascent from sunny Greek valleys to the divine light of the medieval Gothic heights - followed by a nightmarish toboggan ride down into the dark bowels of modernity's version of Plato's cave."

The world was perfect until science came along and ruined everything!

Anonymous said...

Modernity is certainly not a code-word for "science". Feser's complaint there is about, in his view, failures in the development of philosophy.

Have YOU really read this book?

unBeguiled said...

"We also have to break free of the lazy habit (as Plato sees it) of assuming that our senses are our only sources of knowledge of reality. For the highest level of reality is not knowable through the senses, but only via the intellect."


You see, scientists are lazy! Better to be like Feser and make up a bunch of woo, label it "metaphysics", and pawn it off on the creduloids as philosophy.

Yes, I've read it. It was hilarious! So bad. My girlfriend's dad asked me to read it. The poor guy swallows all kinds of apologetic baloney.

Anonymous said...

Apologetic? The book has nothing to do with Christianity directly, by Feser's own admission. Nor is he accusing scientists of being lazy - in fact, he says nothing like that throughout the book. Only that ignoring final causes (among other things) leads to an incomplete and in some cases incomprehensible picture of reality.

By all means, keep misrepresenting the book though. As the book demonstrates, that's rather a key tactic in atheist apologetics. ;)

the Cogitator said...

unB:

Let me make some things a littler clearer.

First, if you have any intention of frequenting my blog, drop the whole secular-Calvinist shtick about my brain, or that of any other believer's, being deficient or constitutionally dumb. It's as pompous as it is asinine. Why should I bother dialoguing with someone who thinks I'm retarded? Moreover, why should I reason with someone who can always protest my arguments are wrong because I'm mentally deficient (i.e., always retreat to the shelter of the genetic fallacy).

Second, the glee with which you cite Feser, highlights a couple points I see about you, and I think you should see about yourself.

a. You seem to be a mocker by nature. Mockers, sadly, reek of insecurity and neutered intellectual machismo. I can't help but think you're a young guy. Try not to make yourself sound like a kid, eh? "I'm so much smarter than Plato and any committed Christian with a Ph.D. in philosophy, cuz, like, I'm totally not beguiled."

b. You pretty consistently miss the point of a proposition by fixating on one or two words in it.

To wit, notice how you take the first quotation from Feser to be a blanket denigration of "science", even though Feser explicitly states that the feud is not between "science and religion" but between rival *philosophies* of nature and human knowledge in it. Hence, aside from the fact that your identification of Western natural philosophy with "science as such" is painfully naive and Eurocentric, you conveniently ignore Feser's entire point, namely, the *philosophical* errors of most modern philosophers are parasitic on, not constitutive of, exact science (in much the same way secularism is parasitic on religion).

Here's the point––there you are way over yonder.

Likewise with the second quotation. To begin with, Feser is just explicating Plato's epistemological position, but I guess it just feels to good to pass up flinging yet another "clever" retort at Feser in passing. Further, you once again leap to the wrong conclusion that because Feser criticizes a bad theoretical approach (viz., radical empiricism), he is thereby denigrating science as such. If you really think we only use our senses in exact science, let alone in ordering a cheeseburger, you belong in the same dustbin as Baconian empiricism.

3. The meta-point: The zeal with which you latch on to random obiter dicta by Feser underscores just how right your blog header is: you are BLINDLY OBSESSED with your beloved (and adorably provincial) "take" on "science." Since, I am sure, you believe thought is just a tangle of irrational, opportunistic memes, I think it's perfectly legitimate to tell the "you meme" in your memeplex that "you" are infected with the "scientism meme" and THEREFORE "you" continually show yourself to be not only guileless towards metaphysics but often quite insensitive to charitable dialogue.

Other than that, though, nice to have you around.

unBeguiled said...

Dear The Pot,

I'm just a meat puppet. How could I have "intentions"?

Seriously, I do not think you are retarded. Rather, after you informed me that I was "cognitively insensible" to some metaphysical detail, I simply replied that from my perspective, your cognitive faculties seemed likewise impaired.

Did you just ignore the next sentence?

"Of course, I am open to the possibility that it might be my brain that is not working."

I really am interested in a congenial exchange of ideas. I am not interested in tediously exposing Feser. After all, according to him, I'm insane. (page 6)

--------------------------

Let me share a short anecdote. When I was 12 or 13, a kid in my carpool told me some form of a cosmological argument. My immediate reaction was to guffaw. It was so palpably ludicrous! I did not know anything about logical terms, but he was special pleading.

Now, since then I have had hundreds of similar experiences. EVERY TIME some apologist presents the latest incantation of these ancient proofs, on the surface they appear obviously fallacious. Painfully, dreadfully, hopelessly fallacious.

I have had a lengthy email exchange with a Catholic priest. It was like trying to communicate with an alien. I carefully read every word of Feser's book, with the vain hope of gaining some insight into the religious mind. Or even learning that I am wrong.

The opposite happened. I realized that the distance between me and I guy like Feser cannot be exaggerated. I came away thinking that he was either a pious fraud or that his brain function was irreparably flawed. I even suspected for a while that the whole project was a parody.

Now let me be clear. I am not saying that Feser is a fraud or an idiot. All I can say is that it seems that way to me.

I am fully aware that Feser thinks the exact thing of me. His book made it quite clear that he thinks a person like me is an evil immoral lunatic.

So, what I want to know: haw can this be? Why is it so? Don't you find it strange?

Sincerely,

The Kettle.

Anonymous said...

You don't 'want to know' diddly. As Cogitator has pointed out, you've done nothing but hoot and holler here, all while utterly misconstruing what Feser wrote. Your reading comprehension is, based on your two takes on the provided quotes, abysmal. Your desire to actually talk meaningfully (much less open-mindedly) about this subject, based on your hooting, is non-existent.

Your half-assed, sarcastic attempts at seeming sincere in trying to understand those who you disagree with are fooling no one. Just more of the usual social autism Vox Day's so aptly diagnosed in the average atheist.

unBeguiled said...

As I wrote:

"I am fully aware that Feser thinks the exact thing of me. His book made it quite clear that he thinks a person like me is an evil immoral lunatic."

Thanks for proving my point, Ed.

the Cogitator said...

unB:

Thank you for your clear and substantive reply. I am glad you are open to a congenial dialogue (not that my schedule, or yours, I imagine, always enables me to keep it up more than periodically). I can see, in your shoes, as it were, how the various arguments and claims at issue are incoherent GIVEN your larger worldview. I can only say that neither of is congenitally impaired. Yet I do stand by my mention of cognitive insensibility, although I'd revise it to, shall we say, intellectual sub-receptivity. When you suggest my brain is not working right, well, it is kind of a non-starter. I'll grant that I am sub-receptive of your materialist, mechanist claims, not because they have no place in my worldview, but because they have taken on an unbalanced importance in your worldview.

Plus, I'm all for wit and pinache, but I just wanted to screen out what I saw as an overweening pleasure on yourpart for philosophical rimshots.

Perhaps a new tack, then:

1. How do you account for the universal, abstract power of the human mind to grasp truth in sensible reality? I am alluding to the arguments of Plantinga, Reppert, Lewis, Hasker, Adler, Jaki, et al.

2. Why do you reject formal and final causation?

Cheers,

unBeguiled said...

I'll knock off the pejorative modifiers. Do me a favor and avoid the Latin.

We will have to table question one, although I think it hides a juicy morsel. For now, I'll take a swipe at the low hanging fruit.

I think maybe you can help me understand what Feser was trying to do. Let's look at his example: a toy rubber ball.

Efficient cause: workers in plant
Material cause: rubber
Formal cause: elastic sphere
Final cause: amusement of child

Clear enough. But what is the point of this strange language? He is using the word "cause" in a way that I find bizarre. Not that words have inherent meaning, I know. But for me reading that book was like translating a foreign language:

Workers in a plant made a rubber ball for a child to play with.

Now he wants to apply these concepts to an acorn? This seems to me a mistake.

Concerning the rubber ball, we have agency. Or "purpose", as it seems you guys want to say. Fine, I agree. The agents made an object to entertain another agent. They also made the object to get paid so they could eat.

But where is the agent with an acorn? Perhaps you could call natural selection an agent, although claiming that natural selection has a goal or purpose seems to me a mistake. So I think using the concept of mechanism is more accurate, rather than agency.

Or how about an electron? What is the formal and final cause of an electron?

So it is not so much that I "reject" the concept of formal and final causes. Rather, it only makes sense with agency involved. Even then, it appears to me obscure verbiage. The same ideas can be expressed much more cogently and simply.

How badly have I missed the point?

the Cogitator said...

unB:

Sed Latinum volo commentare! Noli timere linguam latinam!

(I'm probably off in some details, but I said, "But I want to practice Latin! Don't fear the Latin language!")

First, recall the old saying, "Not all that glitters is gold."

Now "Aristotelianize" it: "Not all that displays finality is conscious."

Point being: AGENCY IS A SUBSET OF, NOT A CODEWORD FOR, FINALITY.

All that is conscious of attaining ends, does display consciousness. This is exactly what Popper meant by "all of life is problem-solving." If even the tiniest unconscious creatures display apparent aims, then a fortiori (all the more) do conscious creatures like us display "aimedness." Without intrinsic (albeit evolved, inherited) dispositions to try this and that tentative solution-behavior for the attainment of some solution to a problem, creatures will not "give" anything to natural selection to approve or condemn.

The rubber ball example Feser uses to describe "the four causes", explicitly, anthropomorphic, BUT it is not meant to be an exhaustive demonstration of finality per se (as such). It is an anthropomorphic *analogy*, and, as we all know, no analogy is perfect.

So, how can the rubber ball example be generalized––de-anthropomorphized––to clarify finality per se?

Chrysippus, if memory serves, uses the analogy of a wooden ball rolling down a plane.

Material cause (Mc): the wood itself.
Efficient cause (Ec): the hand that sets the ball on the incline, or flicks it into motion.
Formal cause (FORc): the unified roundness of the ball.
Final cause (FINc): the bottom of the plane.

Or how about an atom?

Mc: its component "fundamental" particles.
Ec: the strong nuclear force.
FORc: its "fundamental" particles AS they coexist in a PARTICULAR DYNAMIC STRUCTURE.
FINc: orbital valence and reactivity with other suitable atoms.

In no case is the atom displaying a CONSCIOUS aim to be a "good atom," but it is displaying an intrinsic tendency towards maintaining its own "law of finite being" based matter suitable to that structure. One kind of atom is not another kind of atom, even though they are subject to the same efficient causes and made of the same basic material constituents. This is just how we explain a concrete entity "scientifically": we enumerate its material and efficient "strictures" AS THEY ARE INTEGRATED WITH (or "balanced by") its own dynamic tendency to maintain its particular structure as its proper end.

Perhaps the most important thought to keep in the background while listing the 4 causes is this: Nature is not a homogeneous "sludge" of matter-in-motion, but is in fact a sort of "symphony" of discrete natures in dynamic interrelations with each other, each seeking its own endurance OR integration into a larger whole. WHY does each being seek its own good? WHY does each species seeks its own propagation? The genome is perhaps one of the most vivid cases of the 4 causes, since the nucleotides (Mc), conjoined by electric bonds (Ec), are clearly ordered towards (FINc) a larger "product" which itself is the web in which the discrete genes "all find their place." The genes your parents gave you existed ONLY AS the dynamic "software" of their hardware, and pass on successfully ONLY AS the incipient software of your hardware. Outside of the larger formal unity of your parents and you, and thus lacking the finality of functioning towards their survival and reproduction, the genome literally disINTEGRAtes.

As for the four causes of an electron, I am less willing to "go there." First of all, do electrons even HAVE matter sufficient to be called "material objects"? Second, does it make sense to speak of "an electron" in the abstract? I don't think it does, since in nature electrons exist as FORMAL CONSTITUENTS of atoms. Again, assuming they are "material", electrons display the same intrinsic tendency (intentio) toward maintaining their place in a dynamic relation to the rest of nature.

But, shoot, here's a stab at an Aristotelian analysis of an electron:
Mc: …whatever the hell an electron is. (Interestingly, even if we stipulate that electrons only "exist" as so-called margin-points at the interstices of other energy fields, they have a distinct material efficacy and dimensionality AS electrons.)
Ec: the force of the nucleus that draws the electrons to it and not to another atom. (Unless sufficient force under proper conditions, yada yada yada.)
FORc: the resistance of an electron to collapse right into the nucleus. (Its formal "role" in the atom demands that it "assert" its own dynamic "place" in the form of the atom.)
FINc: the particular dynamic integration of each electron in the orbital structure that the atom needs.

I suspect you'll want to say, "But the bare electromagnetic forces and quantum fluctuations account for all that just fine. FINc and FORc are just theoretical ascriptions WE impose on pure nature." But, again, at the most reductionist level, nature is just disparate "fundamental" particles, but of course we do science at numerous levels of reduction, so we must recognize the concrete dynamism of entities that exist IN THEIR OWN WAY and, seemingly, FOR THEIR OWN ENDS in defiance of the scattered "purity" of super-reduced nature. We don't analyze, much less understand, discrete monads; we grasp and explore dynamic wholes that function in relation to larger (or deeper) ends.

I think there is a meta-point that will help you understand just WHY these topics and this "lexicon" seem so alien to you: it's almost literally a foreign language to us. By us I mean those of us immersed in the Galilean, Cartesian, Newtonian worldview. Sure, Einstein and Bohr have tweaked everything in huge ways, but people still function on a default Newtonian mechanist Weltbild. As easy as it is for us to imagine vector line and angular notations in everything we observe, it was that easy for early moderns, medievals, and the ancients to grasp formal and final causation. We speak Newtonian, with an Einsteinian accent, while classical philosophy before (more or less) Descartes, speaks Aristotelian with a Thomistic accent. Hence, it is almost literally like you are trying to speak and hear a foreign language.

This debate really is not about Feser, or anyone he cites, "making up a lot of woo" in order to undermine science. The fourfold theory of causation was simply an integral component of classical, and then medieval, philosophy. The reason that Feser––merely as a *spokesperson* for "the tradition"––is dead-set on restoring that classical Weltbild, is not only because he (and I and our ilk) actually believe its modern nemesis is destructive to science, reason, and morality, but also, because modern philosophy has been hijacked by secularism. Hence, bad philosophy is getting not only the "props" for good science but also for the "death of God." We's guys *actually* believe this vision––of nature, of humanity, of "the Ultimate"––is a beautiful and invigorating way to be in the world!

The three (or more) things I cannot emphasize strongly enough that you read before carrying on with this topic are:

1. James Ross's "The Fate of the Analysts", here: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~jross/aristotlesrevenge.htm

2. David Oderberg's "Teleology: Inorganic and Organic", here: http://www.rdg.ac.uk/AcaDepts/ld/Philos/dso/papers/Teleology_Inorganic%20and%20Organic.pdf

3. My recent essay on finality/form and biological explanation here: http://veniaminov.blogspot.com/2009/02/design-space-selection-pressure.html

I've also written on this topic in numerous other places on my blog.

Start here: http://veniaminov.blogspot.com/2008/08/no-brainer.html and read the addendum at the bottom of the post. You might also like to peruse the links included in that addendum-post.

Cheers,

the Cogitator said...

Oh and I almost forgot, read the additional quotations I added to this post.

All of this is well portrayed by Just Thomism with this reminder: "The calcium making your leg bone is alive. If it breaks, it grows back together. Human calcium is a living thing."

Calcium simpliciter does not "just up and" form bones or repair itself. Only once it is integrated as a formal constituent of a larger hylomorphic whole, does it find a vital finality that it lacks on its own. It "steps into its own," as it were, by "losing itself," as it were, in the higher aims and larger formal harmony of a human body. As with calcium and our body, so with us and the Body of Christ.

the Cogitator said...

[unBe wrote the following at my sozeintasources blog, but it belongs under this post, and I want the discussion to begin here. ––EBB]

Can you give me an example of a “mechanistic philosopher” asserting that all material systems are devoid of final causality?

Feser has presented a fallacy of composition.

Nuts and bolts and fiberglass cannot fly. But planes can fly. Neurons cannot fall in love. But brains can.

Ursula Goodenough coined the phrase “something more from nothing but”. You are nothing but protons, neutrons, and electrons. But you are something more as well.

Perhaps it is important to realize that Feser in this instance presents a fallacy of composition, but more generally in his thinking and writing he commits the fallacy of division. Human beings have intentionality. Our component parts do not.

On the same page Feser tells us to regard intentionality as “the mark of the mental”. OK. He then goes on to say that “it should be obvious that it is simply a conceptual impossibility that it should ever be explained in terms of or reduced to anything material”.

Oh really?

First of all, he may be correct that it is conceptually impossible. But reality is not constrained by what mere humans can conceive of. Just because he can’t understand how a mental phenomenon could emerge from physical events does not also mean that it doesn’t in fact happen. Second, he seems to be saying that since for him it is conceptually impossible, then the explanation necessarily lies somewhere else.

Feser has mistaken his inability to understand something as an insight into necessity. This is a tremendous error.

the Cogitator said...

unBe:

I was away for the weekend. Valentine's and all that. I got back and noticed that you are an (well…the only) official "follower" of my blog. The pressure is killing me!

Anyway…

A mechanist philosopher like Hobbes made that point all over the place. It has a long pedigree since him, at least. Moreover, if I might call you a philosopher, do you believe nature displays (i.e., operates by way of) final causality?

As for the fallacy of composition: some cases of composite analysis are fallacious, others are not. FALLACIOUS: "Because all the tiles in a mosaic are small, the mosaic is small." NON-FALLACIOUS: "Because all the tiles in a mosaic are blue, the mosaic is blue." The difference is that the former claim refers to non-essential, quantitative properties (i.e., size and length), whereas the latter refers to essential, qualitative properties (i.e., the blueness of multiple blue things).

You need to demonstrate that Feser is committing the former (fallacious) composition claim.

This, however, will be tremendously––indeed, impossibly––difficult to do, since Feser is not making that claim that the intellect is built up from small non-intellectual parts. ON THE CONTRARY, he is claiming that, given the nature of intellectual operations per se, no such composition is metaphysically coherent. If anything, it is materialists that more often commit the fallacy of composition by claiming, since we are fundamentally just non-thinking atoms, we are just non-thinking atomic clumps. Otherwise, the entire project of physicalism, viz., reducing ALL phenomena to purely operational physical descriptions, is tossed overboard.

First of all, intentionality is one of those kind of "essential" properties I mentioned above, in contrast with an accidental property. It is its own kind of category, irreducible to anything else. Feser's point is just that, in and of itself, no thing in nature has intrinsic meaning, yet we constantly ascribe meaning to natural objects (e.g., sound waves qua words) and use them in cognitive relation to other physical things (i.e., with intentionality or 'aboutness').

Second, Feser is not saying that he struggles to see "how" the mind "emerges" from the body, but rather, that it is conceptually incoherent to claim properly intellectual operations are in any way reducible to (and therefore emergent from) properly physical operations. He is not saying the "black box" of the mind forces him to seek a better answer elsewhere, but that the very terms under discussion entail the immateriality of the intellect as a proper function of the human person. James Ross's "Immaterial Aspects of Thought", Mortimer Adler's book Mind over Matter, David Oderberg's "Concepts, Dualism, and the Human Intellect", and many other works display this entailment. But I suppose you are still "bigger than" reading what I recommend.

Now, once you demonstrate a clear grasp of the exact argument––which has not only to do with intentionality as an intrinsically mental but intrinsically non-physical phenomenon but also with the indeterminism of physical operations vs. the formal determinateness of intellectual operations––you are free to reject the terms involved: but that will only underscore your anti-metaphysical metaphysics.

I need to end by dispelling another false dichotomy: animal cognition is an admittedly emergent, natural process (if it is not too much a trial, cf. James Ross's "Christians Get the Best of Evolution"). Feser, as well as St. Thomas, fully accepts this. Mental images ("phantasms"), sensations, and the like all are the "something more from nothing but" that you are talking about. Nonetheless, the formal, intentional 'content' of intellectual conception is an intrinsically non-material phenomenon, if for no other reason than it deals in universal ideas across all possible physical referents, while physical objects (INCLUDING phantasms) are, by the very nature of being MATERIAL, local and discrete.

Interestingly enough, the way in which fiberglass and nuts and bolts so to speak fly together, and neurons so to speak cognize together precisely underscores what I have been saying about formal and final causality: only by working according to a formally integrated dynamic structure ordered towards some law-like result do these individual elements become "something more." If you take Goodenough's maxim to be a counter-proof to the supposed claim that cognition can't be natural, you will find yourself guilty of both missing the point of "the immateriality argument" and illustrating formal-finality as intrinsic to nature. (And to think, all this time you were an Aristotelian!)

unBeguiled said...

I knew it was a mistake to post that comment. Again, we are just talking past each other. I should have waited for a response (or non-response) to my prior suggestion.

I need you to give me an axiom. Some starting point.

unBeguiled said...

BTW, if you do eventually give me an axiom and we return to this topic, my response will be something like what I wrote about on vitalism on my pseudo-blog.

the Cogitator said...

unBe:

I dislike the idea of starting from some common "fundamental axiom". It smacks way too much of Cartesian foundationalism, a black hole. Are you looking for something that neither of us can doubt in the least? Something that we can both agree is irrefutably true? Such things are called first principles. Why should I be expected to explain first principles based on some deeper or higher rational "framework" when they are themselves the very tools by which we construct a framework? Why should I be able to, much less expected to, articulate (or, define) what is most important in the pursuit of truth?

But I'll humor you. Consider this first principle.

Anyone that wishes to avoid doing metaphysics should say nothing at all.

As for your gripes about vitalism, I insist, once more, that you listen to my betters (and AS IF hylomorphism were vitalism). If you want to hear my reply, you will read Charles De Koninck's "The Lifeless World of Biology". Suffice to say for now that evolution is no more, nor less, empirically observable than life.

Cheers,

unBeguiled said...

"Such things are called first principles. Why should I be expected to explain first principles based on some deeper or higher rational "framework" when they are themselves the very tools by which we construct a framework?"

My experience with you continues to blow my mind. That was my point! I want to have conversation. So far, we have not even started.

Call it whatever you want, we need somewhere to start.

Anyone that wishes to avoid doing metaphysics should say nothing at all.

I agree.

So far our non-conversation has gone like this:

You don't understand.
No, you don't.
No, It's you.
No it's not, it's you.
You don't even understand when you don't understand.
Wrong, it's you that has that problem.

[Does your Amazon wish list have a correct current address? It's hidden of course, I just want to confirm that it is accurate.]