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3/08/2018 2:47 pm  #1


Philosophy of mind and a resurgence of theism?

Kind of riffing off of Miguel's thread.

I've been reading Nagel's Mind and Cosmos--fantastic read by the way--and it makes me think that theism could see a resurgence, however slight, in the near future. From my layman's perspective a lot of people, including professional scientists, reject theism on the grounds of some brand of scientific materialism. But it seems as if this worldview is doomed to fail given our current understanding of consciousness,intentionality, qualia, etc. If scientific materialism no longer becomes the vogue account of reality, then naturally it could no longer be used as a club against theism.

 

3/08/2018 11:09 pm  #2


Re: Philosophy of mind and a resurgence of theism?

As a matter of strict prediction, I don't think Nagel's book is going to make much of a dent on the cultural prestige of scientific materialism. For that matter I don't think the failure of materialist accounts of the mind is going to make much of a dent either.

It's a complicated sociological matter how many people are atheists and materialists. There are cultural forces at work which dwarf philosophical argument and even the perceived success or failure of scientific research programs. If atheism and materialism begin to wane over the next several decades, it will be because religious people decided to get together and make a lot of babies and raise them in robust, countercultural communities. Atheism and materialism will not begin to wane under the weight of the neoscholastic synthesis; they will not begin to wane because people finally start to appreciate what Mary didn't know. (For the record I don't think there are qualia.)

Setting that aside, non-naturalism in the philosophy of mind does face something of an optics problem, which is that even if naturalist explanations of the mind are failing and are indeed doomed to fail because of the impossibility of what they are attempting, the public's perception is still that they are succeeding.

 

3/15/2018 7:51 pm  #3


Re: Philosophy of mind and a resurgence of theism?

Contra Greg, as an indirect cause, it might have an effect. The great mass of people will never encounter philosophy in the sort of depth required to make a change from atheism to theism. However, if enough people with social or cultural influence do, then it might conceivably have an effect.

For example, it is probably true that out-breeding the opposition is a more plausible path to "victory" (leaving aside the possible objection that the materialist needs only to educate children, not necessarily beget them himself). However if the formation of these "robust counter-cultural communities" is itself put into effect by those under the influence of anti-materialist philosophy, then one could say that philosophical changes had an effect.

Basically, with regards to actually changing a culture, leadership is more important than numbers.

Last edited by Wyvern (3/15/2018 7:52 pm)

 

3/15/2018 10:21 pm  #4


Re: Philosophy of mind and a resurgence of theism?

I don't deny that it can have a small, indirect effect, just that it is dwarfed by other considerations. Part of this is just from the fact that the book has been out for years, and influential people haven't turned Nagelian. Its most significant and lasting effect may be that it spurred Feser to write a series of blog posts on it, which may have captivated some people who would not otherwise have been his readers.

 

3/16/2018 7:15 am  #5


Re: Philosophy of mind and a resurgence of theism?

Greg wrote:

If atheism and materialism begin to wane over the next several decades, it will be because religious people decided to get together and make a lot of babies and raise them in robust, countercultural communities. Atheism and materialism will not begin to wane under the weight of the neoscholastic synthesis; they will not begin to wane because people finally start to appreciate what Mary didn't know. (For the record I don't think there are qualia.).

That's different from what it would take to change the public perception of the rationality of theism (or, more broadly, of the unsuccessful nature of naturalism) in this society though. I'd be interested to know what could possibly effect such a shift e.g. whether it would make a difference if a scientific popularizer type like Hawkins or Kraus suddenly became convinced of the truth of the PSR argument and propounded it enthusiastically on every occasion the origin of the multiverse was discussed.

Last edited by DanielCC (3/16/2018 7:19 am)

 

3/16/2018 8:40 am  #6


Re: Philosophy of mind and a resurgence of theism?

Greg wrote:

It's a complicated sociological matter how many people are atheists and materialists. There are cultural forces at work which dwarf philosophical argument and even the perceived success or failure of scientific research programs. If atheism and materialism begin to wane over the next several decades, it will be because religious people decided to get together and make a lot of babies and raise them in robust, countercultural communities.

I've been advocating this plan for a while.  I knew there was a reason I liked this board.
 

 

3/19/2018 8:34 am  #7


Re: Philosophy of mind and a resurgence of theism?

DanielCC wrote:

That's different from what it would take to change the public perception of the rationality of theism (or, more broadly, of the unsuccessful nature of naturalism) in this society though.

That depends on how you individuate societies. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png
 *

But I take your point.

DanielCC wrote:

I'd be interested to know what could possibly effect such a shift e.g. whether it would make a difference if a scientific popularizer type like Hawkins or Kraus suddenly became convinced of the truth of the PSR argument and propounded it enthusiastically on every occasion the origin of the multiverse was discussed.

It's hard to say. Who knows what sort of psychological laws hold in the nearest possible world, doubtless quite distant from the actual world, in which Lawrence Krauss defends the PSR argument as often as he can?

But I am not sure that atheists would be anymore impressed than they were with Antony Flew's conversion to deism. That is to say, people disinclined to be theists would for the most part wonder whether Krauss lost his marbles and still disagree with him even if it became evident that he did not.

*This is a terrible wink emoticon, but it'll have to do.

 

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