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Monday, December 8, 2008
Thoughts on Presupositionalism
I've been following the debates with Sye and other presups for a while.Presuppositionalism s thought-provoking to say the least. I've seen people's justifications and thoughts n logic and truth and knowlege turned upside down. Though I feel like facepalming every time Sye says "by the impossibility of the contrary he does make good points.
I've recently been reading Azrienoch's blog and I found why the presupper's case was so compelling to me.The full article is here.
"A long time ago, in a land far, far away, there was a word that caused problems for thinking persons: truth. It wasn’t that truth itself was a daunting something, but rather, it was the legend people had made of it that perplexed them. The meaning of the word, the way we used “truth,” became an entity of its own, and it was something thinking persons chased for their entire history. For example, does any one explanatory view have a total lock-hold on rules or axioms that apply to everyone and everything? What is the source of truth; i.e., what makes something true? What makes something not true? Throughout the history of thinking, these questions dominated our agenda. They were answered quickly and with ease by clever people, and accepted just as easily by not-as-clever people. And thinking passed from the memory of each generation without regard.
Then along comes a spider called Socrates, who wasn’t ever satisfied with the answers people gave. He asked things like, “What is truth?” and then he would ask more questions that would lead the interviewee to contradict themselves and admit they just don’t know what they are talking about. [I wonder who else uses that methodology of asking questions until the poster cntradicts himself......hint starts with a S and ends with TenB].Most people don’t know it, but for a number of years, that’s exactly where truth stood: in a place of oblivion and insecurity."
"But after Socrates died, his student and biographer, Plato, thought it might be fun to outdo his mentor and not be satisfied with the answers Socrates produced. So he revived the old question of where truth comes from (as well as other eternal verities like, “meaning,” “morality,” and “justice”). But instead of letting the interviewee answer, Plato (posing as Socrates) decided to postulate an answer. His idea was that there was a logos, a source of everything, that we couldn’t see with our bodily eyes or understand with common-sense reason. The metaphor he explained this by was that of humanity sitting in a dank cave, restrained by chains, and staring at the far wall. The light outside, which represents the logos or source of everything, casts shadows on the wall we are all staring at. And being chained in place, this is the only thing we’ve seen our whole lives, so of course we’re led to believe it is all there is. But, Plato continues, in our role as thinking person, it is our job to take off our chains, leave the cave and look into the light, and then come back so we can shove our newfound enlightenment in others’ faces.
In one form or another, philosophers since that time have been searching for a source for truth and its friends. It may not have been the exterior of a cave, but also the world, physicality, the individual or the collective mind, circumstances, words, logic and mathematics, God, etc. It has always been assumed that there is a source of truth, a method we could be certain of to give us truth. And the whole of this movement by western philosophy climaxed into a sweet and perfect melody called logical positivism. It was a very strong, very influential philosophy whose traces can still be seen all over the place. No system before it had ever come so close to finding the logos – and yes, despite their objections against that metaphysical search, they were hunting for the logos.
It all came down to what they called, the verification principle. The idea is that, “The statement is literally meaningful (it expresses a proposition) if and only if it is either analytically or empirically verifiable” (Wikipedia). That idea failed. Not only could the verification principle not verify itself, but it only brought back all those old problems of induction. Logical positivism died, but the spirit of insistence that came with it lives on..........................................
In ignoring that there is no truth, a new generation has grown up and, like philosophers of most of the time since Plato, assumed that there is a logos. And, consequently, assumed that there is truth. But let us not forget, the arguments from the first kind of post-modernists still exist and are readily available. Imagine it: if someone thought there was a logos and thought there was truth, but also accounted for these two things in a way that the second group of post-modernists could not, they would make quite a formidable opponent against the beast.
Atheists, scientists, philosophers, and other thinking persons that spawn from the second kind of post-modern tradition: I am calling you out. This is your fault. It is this lack of rigor, effort, and sincerity of atheists, scientists, philosophers, and other thinking persons today that has created the monster of Christian presuppositionalism in non-academic philosophy. But mind you, it won’t be non-academic for long.
I’ve seen you fight presuppositionalism with every reasonable bone in your body. But as long as you continue to claim that there is truth, they will win. They have the upper hand against you in using the deconstructive techniques of the first kind of post-modernism. And as long as you insist that there is truth, they can just take you at your own word. Watching you collide with the presuppositionalists is like watching a mother fight with her own child; you want to beat them as hard as you can, but at the same time, you want pieces of them to survive the fight because their truth is your own.
I’ve read paper upon paper on how to defeat a presuppositionalist in debate, and each time I see one of those methods used, I’ve also seen them fail. So listen closely, because I’m about to tell you how to beat them: cut their feet off. Of course, you will only be able to do this by admitting and remembering that you also have no feet. Show them there is no logos and no truth, and they too will have nothing to stand on. This mutated child you’ve given us will die.
But this is a self-sacrificial mission. Your own flawed philosophy, based off of your hopes and desires instead of your honesty and rigor, will die too. That is the tradeoff. If you decide not to, and go about fighting them your way, you only lend them the time and practice to get stronger. "