Classical Theism, Philosophy, and Religion Forum

You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?



5/10/2018 6:59 am  #1


Theism and Tribalism

Anglophone Protestants tend to endorse the moral argument, Kalam and PSR Cosmological arguments, the Modal Ontological argument and some form of design argument. They also express skepticism about divine simplicity and divine timelessness. They are inflationists about free will, typically libertarians. They used to be ignorant of the subtleties of scholastic philosophy.

'Classical Theists' (note scare quotes) tend to endorse Thomistic arguments, the argument from eternal truths and some more general source of goodness arguments. ThTe endorse both divine simplicity and divine timelessness. They are deflationists about free will typically attempting to dismiss the debate as ill-founded. They are often both ignorant and dismissive of modern philosophical developments  ('I don't like possible worlds!' 'That's not how Aquinas or Hume uses that word'). 

In many cases here I think the difference is tribal rather than intellectual. Its common to hear 'classical theists' come out with criticisms of the ontological argument which would shame a New Atheist (if it even gets that far - a simple mention of the Ontological Argument in the same tone as 'Run Away!' is normally sufficient) along with indifference to free will questions coupled with the fallacy of redefinition (that's not how the Ox uses the word!').

By the same token theists of the WLC stripe engage in the same uninformed criticisms of divine simplicity if that even get beyond blank dismissives ('it would entail divine simplicity!'). They often avoid or are indifferent to wider ontological questions formulating their arguments in such a way as to be workable on a wide range of theoretical backgrounds (one can questions whether or not this is a bad thing but the indifference surely is). The ignorance and dismissive attitude towards scholastic ideas is still present but has to be fair improved some what after people, themselves to friends of the doctrine, pointed out all the flaws in Plantinga's Does God Have a Nature.

Si I put it to you that most of this disagreements aren't the result of any deep intellectual differences but stem from tribal prejudices. Their master A. Thomist give a short cryptic dismissal of the ontological argument and says nothing about free will and his readers accept this views as a bed-rock of philosophy interpreting said rhetoric in colorful ways should they ever be challenged. A. Apologist mentions that divine simplicity has been challenged and/or is just difficult to understand and his acolytes demonstrate Skinneresque reactions whenever that idea is mentioned.

In all honesty though I think 'classical theists' are doing worst these days. At least WLC types are starting to recognize it would be a good idea to understand these scholastics notions. 'Classical theists' on the other hand quail and beg for the messianic forces of Aquinas and Hume (yes, I know...) to save them from claws of Alvin Plantinga, Prince of Darkness.

*'Classical theist' is scare-quoted because although not all classical theists identify as Thomists few of them identify as anything other than Thomists.
 

Last edited by DanielCC (5/10/2018 8:53 am)

 

5/10/2018 7:50 am  #2


Re: Theism and Tribalism

DanielCC wrote:

'Classical Theists' (note scare quotes) tend to endorse Thomistic arguments, the argument from eternal truths and some more general source of goodness arguments. The endorse both divine simplicity and divine timelessness. They are deflationists about free will typically attempting to dismiss the debate as ill-founded. They used to be ignorant of the subtleties of scholastic philosophy.

Who do you have in mind? If you mean enthusiastic novice Thomists, then why not call them such, instead of calling them 'Classical Theists' in scare quotes?

Classical Theists without scare quotes are a diverse global bunch. They include scholastically inclined Christians of Thomist, Scotist, and Bonaventurean stripes, Muslims with various Aristotelian and Neoplatonic connections, and Eastern philosophers where traditions are at least as ancient, rich, and subtle as in Europe.

Why the scare quotes instead of properly descriptive labels and in-depth definitions?

 

5/10/2018 8:50 am  #3


Re: Theism and Tribalism

seigneur wrote:

Who do you have in mind? If you mean enthusiastic novice Thomists, then why not call them such, instead of calling them 'Classical Theists' in scare quotes?

Because the phenomena is more wide-reaching than self-identified Thomists. That these people tend to equate specifically Thomist positions with classical theism in general stems from most of the classical theist stuff they read being Thomist (though not always - take the way Radical Orthodoxy has pushed Thomist accounts of language despite some of its proponents being more Platonically inclined).

seigneur wrote:

Classical Theists without scare quotes are a diverse global bunch. They include scholastically inclined Christians of Thomist, Scotist, and Bonaventurean stripes, Muslims with various Aristotelian and Neoplatonic connections, and Eastern philosophers where traditions are at least as ancient, rich, and subtle as in Europe.

Of course. But one rarely hears these views developed outside of academic circles. Some of the views' 'classical theists' don't like e.g. ontological arguments and libertarian free will, were developed by historical classical theist thinkers, they are just not associated with the popular narrative driven classical theistTM camp. 

seigneur wrote:

Why the scare quotes instead of properly descriptive labels and in-depth definitions?

First of all because people are familiar with said groups. More seriously because the identities to which I refer are cluster concepts with members possessing only some of the shared characteristics I have named (tends to dislike the ontological argument, avoids and dislike modern philosophical terminology, tends to support design arguments, suspicious of divine simplicity)

Last edited by DanielCC (5/10/2018 8:51 am)

     Thread Starter
 

5/10/2018 9:11 am  #4


Re: Theism and Tribalism

Unfortunately, Daniel, you're right. The disagreement isn't a result of deep intellectual differences but stem from tribal prejudices. Mainly because I think people like WLC, although he sometimes seems to have a confused outlook on Thomism, he at times does hit it right (he mentions the accidental property objection to Classical Theism and Divine Simplicity). I suppose, being charitable to him, reading his Q&A and watching his debates that he realises that the disagreements come from either (a) aesthetic preference over theories or (b) "who is my master?" And I think that this is the case due to the general nature of disagreement, and for me, a failure of epistemology and Classical Theism to secure any form of a posteriori certitude. But I guess I'd be more sympathetic to WLC since he already has a decided goal of life and has lived most of his years in service to that goal, there's also psychological factors as to why one shouldn't back down from a project when they're in so deep. WLC might think that if he defected today, his master would be very upset with him, and maybe that's wrong---but that's how most religious folk who are invested in philosophy I know think of it.

Either way, doesn't seem to be an easy decision for me.

 

5/10/2018 9:47 am  #5


Re: Theism and Tribalism

DanielCC wrote:

...these people tend to equate specifically Thomist positions with classical theism in general...

Not accusing Feser here, are you?

DanielCC wrote:

seigneur wrote:

Why the scare quotes instead of properly descriptive labels and in-depth definitions?

First of all because people are familiar with said groups.

I'm not familiar with those. In real life at my particular location, I do not know a single theist, fundie or even a lukewarm churchgoer, not to mention anybody deeper informed about theology and philosophy current or ancient. I am surrounded by people who are oblivious of all that and more.

Other than myself, that is, but I am completely self-taught from books in my spare time.

Last edited by seigneur (5/10/2018 9:50 am)

 

5/10/2018 9:53 am  #6


Re: Theism and Tribalism

seigneur wrote:

DanielCC wrote:

...these people tend to equate specifically Thomist positions with classical theism in general...

Not accusing Feser here, are you?

No, to give him his due he is keen to point out that there were prominent non-thomist classical theist traditions. I do think his writing on the ontological argument is spurious but that's not enough to damn him. He is however unfortunately responsible for at least a percent of the evil moderns rhetoric despite also trying to encourage people to read informed writers on the subject of metaphysics and natural theology.

     Thread Starter
 

5/10/2018 6:04 pm  #7


Re: Theism and Tribalism

The other day, a friend told me: "My beef with WLC is that he has too many perfectly white teeth." http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png

 

5/10/2018 7:43 pm  #8


Re: Theism and Tribalism

seigneur wrote:

I'm not familiar with those. In real life at my particular location, . . .

We the Meinongian Aussersein of the internet are very interested in this real life-online life distinction. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png

(Just having fun, of course.)

 

5/11/2018 5:30 am  #9


Re: Theism and Tribalism

DanielCC wrote:

In many cases here I think the difference is tribal rather than intellectual. 

Add the trinity to the list. Which of the cosmo arguments take us there? To use these arguments in Christian apologetics and then to mention (almost as an addendum, as if in passing) that G-d is a "special unity" that consists of three parts, each of which has the sufficient requirements to be G-d, is either charlatanry of world-historic proportions ... or rank tribalism.

There's a (subconscious) disjunctive syllogism bewitching us and it's all because of tribalism: either some flavor of Christianity is true OR nihilism. The arguments for Judaism (or Theism unaffiliated, or Hinduism) are simply ignored. Since we're harping about WLC

"When you look at the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, they give virtually no clue that Messiah isn’t going to be this triumphant warrior king that was expected. This is what was supposed to happen."

And it didn't. Game over. Case closed. We need to rise above our ingrained tendencies to identify with the religion of our tribe.

 

5/11/2018 5:45 am  #10


Re: Theism and Tribalism

119 wrote:

There's a (subconscious) disjunctive syllogism bewitching us and it's all because of tribalism: either some flavor of Christianity is true OR nihilism. The arguments for Judaism (or Theism unaffiliated, or Hinduism) are simply ignored. Since we're harping about WLC: .

This is true, though part of a greater tendency to assume theism must be linked to, or at least is incomplete without, some form of revealed religion. Look at the pejoratives US protestants flick about 'moral therapeutic deism'.

I have more sympathy for WLC than the Thomist/Radical Orthodoxy narrative classical theists if only because the former doesn't try to push people away from studying modern philosophy.

     Thread Starter
 

Board footera

 

Powered by Boardhost. Create a Free Forum