February 02, 2014

Definition of Metaphysical Primacy

Definition of metaphysical primacy: the state of being most important or strongest with regard to the transcendent or reality beyond the perceptible senses.

The above definition is based upon a logical approach towards the subject defined and the process of formulating definitions. Searches on the Stamford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy for a definition of "metaphysical primacy" do not yield a definition. This issue came to my attention when I realized that the philosophy of Objectivism is based upon comparing two conditions of perceived metaphysical primacy without ever defining what metaphysical primacy is in the first place as a point of reference.This issue was pointed out in two articles. One is titled, Rand’s Primacy Argument Refuted and the other, Metaphysical Primacy, Timeless Truth and Atheist Presuppositionalism. Hopefully,  addressing and defining the subject of metaphysical primacy will help to bring some clarity to this subject for anyone interested in discussing and debating it. I welcome a critique of the ideas posted herein.


Outline

I. What qualifies as an acceptable philosophical definition?
  A. How are dictionary definitions created?
  B. Logical reasons why authority alone is a poor criteria.
II. Logical approach to defining metaphysical primacy.
III. What is metaphysical primacy?
IV.  Is there any conflation or subjective bias?
V. Examples of metaphysical primacy in use.
  A. Primacy of God in Theism
  B. Primacy of Consciousness in New Age
  C. Primacy of Existence in Objectivism
VI. Logical arguments regarding metaphysical primacy.

Defining Metaphysical Primacy

I. What qualifies as an acceptable philosophical definition?

A. How are dictionary definitions created?

There are different means by which the publishers of dictionaries come up with their definitions. English dictionaries tend to be a bit more democratic in the process. The dictionary is viewed more as a documentation of already commonly used words and meanings that have already been introduced into society by others. Due to a rise of slang use, official Russian and French dictionaries are guarded by a strict screening process wherein words and definitions have to be approved before being accepted. An organisation called L'Académie française decides if a word is worthy to be considered a true French word, and should be included in the French dictionary.

A.  Logical reasons why authority alone is a poor criterion.
 
False definitions from authoritative sources
 
Consider that both the Oxford Dictionary and Webster's Dictionary have published "incorrect" definitions of the word "literally because people have been literally using the word incorrectly and this incorrect use is now widespread. Since 2011, The Oxford English Dictionary has included its its informal (i.e. false) definition in its publication. There are other reasons why the definition in an authoritative source may not necessarily be considered the best or only source of a valid definition.

1. The first dictionary definitions were considered viable, though created without the use of previous dictionaries and authoritative citations.

2. Therefore, authoritative citations are not necessary in creating viable definitions.

Qualities of an Objective Definition

1. An objective definition is one that accurately summarizes the key qualities of a subject without imposing bias or prejudice.

2. It is logically possible for a single individual to use objective sources and summarize key qualities of a subject without imposing a personal bias or prejudice.

3. Therefore, it is logically possible for a single individual to create an objective definition.
 
II. Logical approach to defining metaphysical primacy.

There is no World Dictionary Committee that determines what an acceptable definition is. However, the use of a logical approach can ensure that a definition matches the subject it defines and matches its common use as closely as possible. Taking accepted definitions of the words “metaphysical” and “primacy” and combing the meanings into one definition begins a logical three-step process.
 
1)      Use commonly accepted definitions of root words as a starting point.
2)      Check to see if there is any potential conflation or subjective bias.
3)      Compare definition with popular and professional usage.

III. What is metaphysical primacy?

The word “metaphysical” is derived from two Greek roots, “meta,” which means “beyond” and  “physika,” meaning “physics.” The etymological interpretation of metaphysics is “beyond physics.”

Webster’s dictionary summarizes “primacy” as follows: the state of being most important or strongest. Webster’s summarizes “metaphysical” in a philosophical sense as follows: of or relating to the transcendent or to reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses.

These two definitions are similar to definitions found in other dictionaries. There does not seem to be any aspect of these definitions that could be problematic or controversial. A direct combination of these two definitions, with nothing added or subtracted, yields a basic definition of metaphysical primacy as follows:

the state of being most important or strongest with regard to the transcendent or reality beyond the perceptible senses.

VII.  Is there any conflation or subjective bias?

It is possible that a person with a very low I.Q. could misinterpret the phrase, “jumbo shrimp” if he read a dictionary and thought that the word “shrimp” in this case meant “very small,” rather than a small sea creature. It is possible that a person from another country could misinterpret the phrase, “Super Bowl Sunday” to mean an extra-large pot luck supper at church, due to a problem of cultural context. It’s also possible that a phrase may be imbibed with esoteric slang meaning. However, in the case of the phrase, “metaphysical primacy,” I don’t see any of these kinds of dangers. As far as a subjective bias is concerned, the exact definitions of the two root words were used in the definition, so that would count for a pretty objective starting point. If anyone sees a problem with the definition, or believes it is not accurate in some manner, do write a note in the comment section that we may discuss.

VIII. Examples of metaphysical primacy in use.

A. Primacy of God in Theism

Deuteronomy 33:27 states, “The eternal God is a dwelling place,” and Romans 16:26 states, “but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;”

William Lane Craig, widely considered to be the world's top debater of our day, affirms a theist position outlining the metaphysical primacy of God. In addressing an atheist, Craig states, “I, too, insist on God’s having both the attributes you mention, personhood and primacy. In fact, my research focus for over a decade now has been on what you call God’s primacy and theologians call God’s aseity." In the noted post, entitled, God and Other Minds, Craig affirms two points made by an atheist:

1) God is personal - by which I mean that God is a person with a mind, a consciousness, knowledge, will, sentience, etc.
2) God is primal - by which I mean that he does not depend for his existence on anything else. He is both logically and temporally prior to everything else that exists.

The atheist clarifies the metaphysical primacy of God by explaining, "he (God) does not depend for his existence on anything else."

Similar to Theism, Transcendentalism affirms that the supernatural holds metaphysical primacy over the natural.

Websters defines Transcendentalism as follows: "a philosophy that asserts the primacy of the spiritual and transcendental over the material and empirical." A major difference between Transcendentalism and Theism is that Transcendentalism does not require the existence of a personal God with a consciousness, knowledge, will, and  sentience.

Over the years, various philosophers have addressed the subject of metaphysical primacy.

The Stanford Encyclopedia outlines Kant's primacy of reason: "The primacy of practical reason is a key element of Kant's response to the crisis of the Enlightenment, since he holds that reason deserves the sovereign authority entrusted to it by the Enlightenment only on this basis.

Kant’s position, however, is somewhat paradoxical. He proposes a primacy of reason, but then outlines our dependence on God and his grace:  “I [or indeed we] cannot hope to produce this [highest possible good] except by the harmony of my will with that of a holy and beneficent author of the world”-  In essence, Kant is affirming the ultimate primacy of God, not reason. However, reason and logic may be seen as primary in a practical sense with regard to human activity.

B.    Primacy of Consciousness in New Age

A documentary film by Peter Russel titled, The Primacy of Consciousness postulates the following: “The fundamental nature of reality is actually consciousness. In his documentary Peter Russell explores the reasons why consciousness may be the fundamental essence of the Universe.” The logical and metaphysical weakness of this position was pointed out by Ayn Rand, but Rand’s primacy of existence inherits its own set of problems.

C.    Ayn Rand’s Primacy of Existence
 
Another use of metaphysical primacy is found in Ayn Rand’s philosophy Objectivism. “The Ayn Rand Lexicon” is filled with definitions prepared by Ayn Rand, as noted, “This mini-encyclopedia of Objectivism is com¬piled from Ayn Rand’s state¬ments on some 400 topics in philosophy, economics, psychology and history.”

The word “Primacy” is not in the lexicon, and neither is the phase, “metaphysical primacy.” All that is listed is the “Primacy of Existence vs. Primacy of Consciousness,” which proposes a number of logical fallacies in a somewhat underhanded approach towards supporting a materialist worldview. She begins by writing, “The primacy of existence (of reality) is the axiom that existence exists,” and continues for two paragraphs. As I’d mentioned, Rand’s position on primacy has been addressed in article, Rand's Primacy of Existence Argument Refuted. 

At face value, there does not appear to be any problem or conflict with the proposed definition of metaphysical primacy and the manner in which thew subject is commonly used. However, a deeper look into Rand's philosophy with reveal a deviation of practical use from the objective definition herein presented.

Tags: definition of metaphysical primacy, how are definitions made? What is an objective definition? Mistakes in dictionary definitions, false and misplaced hope in authority, logic more trustworthy than authority

23 comments:

  1. Since the above definition was posted, the objectivist blogger, Dawson Bethrick has written a comment claiming that the discussion of metaphysical primacy has resulted in “confusion.”

    It seems the confusion he refers to may be a result of a misunderstanding. Bethrick offers a tone of surprise in his comment:

    “So now you're saying that Rand never gave a definition of 'metaphysical primacy' in the first place! Amazing!”

    Notice how Bethrick uses single quotation marks in his comment above. In the article just posted, I use double quotation marks in the opening paragraph:

    “Searches on the Stamford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy for a definition of "metaphysical primacy" do not yield a definition.”

    Just in case anyone is not familiar, double quotation marks refer to the literal phrase being quoted. It’s not entirely clear how or why Bethrick would miss this. In any event, the problem seems to be one of distinguishing a general concept from a highly subjective definition based upon a particular viewpoint. Also note another comment of Dawson’s

    >“A good example is what you insinuate that Objectivism has provided no support for identifying the issue of metaphysical primacy as the most important issue in philosophy.”

    - I didn’t merely insulate this Dawson, it is quite evident that Ayn Rand has provided no definition of “metaphysical primacy” as a general concept in her writings or in her Lexicon. The only definitions provided are her very own poorly framed ones based upon her perceived metaphysical dichotomy. If I am incorrect, do provide a general definition offered by Rand that has been used as a basis for her two particular versions of metaphysical primacy.

    After having provided a blog past as an answer to your question, I believe I have the right to ask you two questions:

    1) Can you find fault with the following premises in the following argument?

    1. An objective definition is one that accurately summarizes the key qualities of a subject without imposing bias or prejudice.

    2. It is logically possible for a single individual to use objective sources and summarize key qualities of a subject without imposing a personal bias or prejudice.

    3. Therefore, it is logically possible for a single individual to create an objective definition.

    2) Do you find anything intrinsically wrong with the following definition of “metaphysical primacy”?

    the state of being most important or strongest with regard to the transcendent or reality beyond the perceptible senses.

    Thanks for your input, Dawson

    Regards,

    Rick

    Note: Dawson's full comment is at another blog post. However, this post seems to be a more appropriate location for this topic of definitions.

    http://templestream.blogspot.com/2014/01/rands-primacy-of-existence-argument.html?showComment=1391377901497#c3306644334489821567

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    1. I had outlined how Rand's personal metaphysical definitions utilize metaphysical censorship in my previous post:

      Argument Identifying the Invalid Objectivist Primacy of Consciousness Definition

      1. Objectivist Bethrick claims that Theism supports a primacy of consciousness metaphysics (PCM) that violates primacy of existence metaphysics (PEM).

      2. This claim is based on the fact that Theism describes a supernatural God who created the material universe through an act of volition.

      3. According to Bethrick, his definition of PCM excludes two aspects that undermine his claim.

      4. First, Bethrick claims that the fact that a supernatural and eternal God cannot logically nullify his own existence or recreate Himself is excluded from his definition of PCM.

      5. Second, Bethrick claims that the fact that theists cannot generally create objects through an act of volition is excluded from his definition of PCM.

      6. Objectivist Bethrick has created a highly specialized definition of a universal concept that denies the universality of that concept and arbitrarily excludes aspects that refute his claims.

      7. Any highly specialized definition of a universal concept of reality that denies the universality of that concept and arbitrarily excludes aspects for subjective reasons is an invalid and false definition of that concept.

      8. Therefore, Bethrick’s definition of primacy of consciousness is invalid and false.

      I highlighted Bethrick's response to this, a very poor analogy of lying and metaphysical definitions that "cancel out" each other. He has yet to respond to my critique of his rebuttal regarding this problem at the previous post, linked here:

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2014/01/rands-primacy-of-existence-argument.html

      Hopefully, Bethrick will be able to understand why definitions that include arbitrary metaphysical censorship are not Kosher in supporting a philosophy, especially one titled "Objectivism."

      Delete
    2. I'm sorry, Dawson

      But I just noticed that I had brought up the issue of faulty objectivist definitions back in a post titled, Three Refutations of Objectivism, as noted:

      "In response, Mr. Bethrick dug his hole even deeper by acknowledging that he had used a special definition of metaphysical primacy unique to his own aims, which is in fact biased against alternative metaphysical possibilities, as noted in this referenced quote:

      "...metaphysical primacy as my argument incorporates it has precisely to do with the relationship between consciousness and its objects,"

      No truly objective person would be interested in adopting a definition of metaphysical primacy that is skewed to serve one metaphysical viewpoint. As outlined in a blog post, Bethrick attempted to prove that God does not exist by claiming that Theism assumes a primacy of consciousness metaphysics while a primacy of existence metaphysics represents metaphysical truth. Yes, it’s true that Theism outlines how God created the temporal material world with an act of the will. However, on a much deeper metaphysical level, God exists eternally and cannot logically nullify or recreate Himself. Furthermore, humans generally cannot create objects through conscious volition. What is a determined objectivist to do? Well, according to Bethrck’s definition of metaphysical primacy, God’s eternal and unchanging existence cannot be considered as a valid metaphysical aspect of Theism in this case. And the fact that humans cannot generally create objects upon demand must be ignored. Wow. That's a very inventive and particular definition of metaphysical primacy, isn't it? Quite amazing."

      This is the link to that post:

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2014/01/three-refutations-of-objectivism.html

      If you remember, your comment response was that I was "simply axe-grinding" - Hopefully, at some point you will recognize the need for valid definitions.


      Delete
  2. Rick,

    You wrote: “In any event, the problem seems to be one of distinguishing a general concept from a highly subjective definition based upon a particular viewpoint.”

    The whole issue of the subject-object relationship which Objectivism emphasizes is to teach a thinker how to think objectively and avoid subjectivism. But this is what you’ve been trying to contend against all along, and here you feign concern for avoiding subjective definitions. And yet, if the subject-object relationship is not a fundamental issue in philosophy, then what basis do you have for having any concern over something being subjective? Your stolen concepts are choking your entire endeavor here.

    You wrote: “If I am incorrect, do provide a general definition offered by Rand that has been used as a basis for her two particular versions of metaphysical primacy."

    Why should I or anyone else spoon-feed you? You already decided earlier that Rand’s definition is “subjective,” and then later you complained that she never offered a definition to begin with. You can’t have it both ways. Again, you need to take a breather and start doing some serious homework here. What sources have you read? What good would it do if I gave you definitions? Your concern over Rand’s definitions is a complete red herring, as I’ve explained already.

    You wrote: “An objective definition is one that accurately summarizes the key qualities of a subject without imposing bias or prejudice.”

    Definitions pertain to *concepts*. Your use of ‘subject’ here is quite vague and blurs the root issue. To have an objective definition of a concept, the concept being defined first needs to be formed on an objective basis. Thus you need the objective theory of concepts. As a Christian, Rick, where are you going to get *any* theory of concepts (the bible does not present one), and how could your worldview be at all compatible with the objective theory of concepts when in fact your whole worldview is premised on the notion of a subject which creates all objects distinct from itself and to whose dictates all facts conform (i.e., subjectivism)? You nowhere explain this.

    Your latest definition of MP: “the state of being most important or strongest with regard to the transcendent or reality beyond the perceptible senses.”

    Again, please cite the source where you found this definition (I note that it has changed over time; it used to be: “that which is considered to be the most primary and universally relevant supervening, preeminent force in terms of both being and existence" which you’ve apparently abandoned, and for reasons you have not explained). Also, identify any philosophers who agree with this definition. Otherwise, it appears you're making things up as you go and are standing all by your lonesome here, in which case it appears you have nothing of value to contribute to the conversation (as has been evident all along).

    Regards,
    Dawson

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    Replies
    1. Dawson,

      You've declined to answer my two simple questions. And you've thrown in some obfuscating comments for good measure.

      Let me try again.

      First, may I point out how you are beginning to convey a pattern of misconstrue my words. You wrote,

      “You already decided earlier that Rand’s definition is “subjective,” and then later you complained that she never offered a definition to begin with.”

      No, Dawson. I will explain yet again. I have pointed out that Rand’s two primacy definitions (plural, Dawson, not singular) were quite faulty and subjective. And I have also pointed out that Rand had never offered a general definition of metaphysical primacy.

      You still seem to be having a bit of trouble distinguishing between a general definition pertaining to a general concept and specific definition pertaining to a specific application of a concept.

      You wrote,

      "Definitions pertain to *concepts*. Your use of ‘subject’ here is quite vague and blurs the root issue."

      Rand referred to the subject of metaphysics quite benignly; it’s in her posthumous Lexicon. On metaphysics, Rand stated,

      “These answers are the province of metaphysics—the study of existence as such or, in Aristotle’s words, of “being qua being”—the basic branch of philosophy.”

      The concept seems to be "the study of existence." Was that so hard?

      Rand embraced both the word “metaphysics” and “Primacy,” as definitive of her own beliefs on a basic level.

      Is there any aspect of Rand's theory of concepts that does not allow for a definition of "metaphysical primacy"? If so, do explain for us.

      In short, I’m not asking you to deny your theory of concepts, Dawson. By all means, refer to them and employ them to the fullest extent you wish. And then you can clarify your opinion on the simple questions I had asked that you declined to answer.

      It's time for an answer, Dawson. Is the following definition of "metaphysical primacy" accurate or not in your opinion?

      the state of being most important or strongest with regard to the transcendent or reality beyond the perceptible senses.

      We're waiting.

      In forming the above objective definition, I found thew second point to be important:

      2) Check to see if there is any potential conflation or subjective bias.

      It's a real shame that Rand's axioms, concepts and definitions are loaded with atheist presuppositionalism, as noted in a previous post:

      Presupposing Materialism in Definitions

      Rand claims: “The primacy of existence (of reality) is the axiom that existence exists, i.e., that the universe exists independent of consciousness (of any consciousness),”

      Here Rand whips out two ideas in one hodge-podge fell swoop. One is fallacious and the other is unsupported, that basically presupposes her materialist conclusion. First, we have a phrase stating that “existence exists.” Then we have the presupposed notion that existence is part and parcel with the natural and material universe.

      Further conflating the issue, Rand immediately conflates “existence” with the natural “universe.” This is simply materialist presuppositionalism, plain and simple. A highly-respected professor of physics named Alexander Vilenkin has mathematically demonstrated that our universe had a beginning. Space and time had a beginning at the beginning of the universe. In the “big” picture of eternity, our finite little universe is insignificant by comparison. To claim that our universe in time in space is tantamount to all of “existence” is a joke, both naturally and with regard to science and especially with regard to the much stronger arguments presented on behalf of Theism, as compared to “philosophical arguments” such as Ayn Rand’s.

      Delete
  3. Rick,

    You wrote: “I have pointed out that Rand’s two primacy definitions (plural, Dawson, not singular) were quite faulty and subjective.”

    You’ve asserted this. But as I explained, your attempts to substantiate this collapse into stolen concepts. Fail.

    You wrote: “And I have also pointed out that Rand had never offered a general definition of metaphysical primacy.”

    1. You have not shown that Rand never gave a definition of MP.

    2. It wouldn’t matter if she never gave a definition of this term – she’s using a term comprised of two commonly used words. One does not expect a thinker to define every term he/she uses.

    3. What Rand meant by MP is obvious from the context of what she did write.

    4. Your focus on Rand’s definitions is a red herring.

    You wrote: “You still seem to be having a bit of trouble distinguishing between a general definition pertaining to a general concept and specific definition pertaining to a specific application of a concept.”

    No, I am having no such trouble, Rick. This is just more red herring on your part.

    You wrote: “The concept seems to be ‘the study of existence’. Was that so hard?”

    Exactly, Rick! What’s so hard here? You make my point for me. Thank you!

    You wrote: “It's time for an answer, Dawson.”

    Yes, I agree, Rick. Here are the questions:

    << 1) If your god wills that an apple exists in a certain location at a certain time, will the apple come into existence as willed or not?

    2) If your god wills that the apple is of the golden delicious variety, will the apple be a golden delicious apple?

    3) If your god wills that the apple becomes a banana, will the apple become a banana?
    >>

    I’ve been waiting for you to answer these questions since Jan. 17. There were many questions I posed well before this that you have ignored as well. But let’s start with these since you think “it’s time for an answer.”

    Now, back to your proposed definitions of MP. You have offered two so far:

    1. “that which is considered to be the most primary and universally relevant supervening, preeminent force in terms of both being and existence.

    And

    2. “the state of being most important or strongest with regard to the transcendent or reality beyond the perceptible senses.

    In both cases, you have failed: (1) to cite a source where you got these specific definitions; and (2) to cite any philosophers who agree with them. Are you going to continue in these failures? Yes or no? It’s time for an answer. We’re waiting.

    Regarding: “The primacy of existence (of reality) is the axiom that existence exists, i.e., that the universe exists independent of consciousness (of any consciousness),”

    You wrote: “Here Rand whips out two ideas in one hodge-podge fell swoop. One is fallacious and the other is unsupported, that basically presupposes her materialist conclusion.”

    I don’t see any hint of materialism in Rand’s statement. This particular objection is specifically discussed in the Objectivist literature and shown to be completely fictitious. Again, you need to do more research here, Rick. You’re in over your head.

    You wrote: “First, we have a phrase stating that ‘existence exists’. Then we have the presupposed notion that existence is part and parcel with the natural and material universe.”

    Where does Rand specify “material universe”? You’re reading this into what she says, Rick. This *your bias* showing through (again). By ‘universe’, Objectivism means the sum total of all that exists, whatever nature its constituents might happen to be, material or otherwise. You’re simply dishing up more straw men here, Rick.

    Now, back to my questions above…

    Regards,
    Dawson

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    1. Dawson,

      >You’ve asserted this (that Rand's 2 primacy arguments fail). But as I explained, your attempts to substantiate this collapse into stolen concepts.

      - Actually, Dawson, it was your analogy of lying that was quite the failure, as addressed in the previous post. You still have not come to terms with that failed analogy:

      Bethrick’s phrase, “cancel out” is used repeatedly. No one has proposed that anything metaphysical has been “cancelled out.” The relevant question here is, “What supervenes and is preeminent?” The laws of aerodynamics do not “cancel out” the law of gravity...

      This is one example out of many demonstrating why it is necessary for Randians to define "metaphysical primacy" as a starting point. So many specious objections could be avoided.

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2014/01/rands-primacy-of-existence-argument.html

      You wrote:

      1. You have not shown that Rand never gave a definition of MP.

      - Well, if you know of one example, do share Dawson.

      2. It wouldn’t matter if she never gave a definition of this term – she’s using a term comprised of two commonly used words. One does not expect a thinker to define every term he/she uses.

      - Actually defining "metaphysical primacy" as a distinct concept would make the metaphysical shell game a little less effective.

      3. What Rand meant by MP is obvious from the context of what she did write.

      - One would also think that Randiods would understand that couched metaphysical censorship in their pretentious arguments would be obvious and admit such.

      4. Your focus on Rand’s definitions is a red herring.

      Hardly. The following is an example of why it is not a red herring:

      Analogy outlining why Objectivists need to define “Metaphysical Primacy”

      A student of Dr. Atkins challenges a vegetarian by telling him that the Atkin diet holds dietary primacy over vegetarian diets. He says, “Look I’ve lost 100 pounds in one month. No vegetarians I have read about have ever lost that much weight that quickly. Therefore, our diet holds dietary primacy over a vegetarian diet”

      The vegetarian replies, “My vegetarian diet from my own organic garden has a lot more vitamins, is better for your heart and lifespan, and is therefore a better diet. The only way to decide the matter would be to define, “dietary primacy” in a clear manner with clear parameters and see if it is actually worth basing a comparison on.”

      The Atkins student scoffs and says, “That is just a red herring. We have a very specific system and you don’t have a system, therefore, our diet is superior.”

      I would not be surprised if you do not understand this very basic analogy, Dawson. But I am quite certain that people who seek to have an objective perspective on the question of metaphysical primacy will understand why this analogy fits like a kid glove.

      You wrote,

      "Exactly, Rick! What’s so hard here? You make my point for me. Thank you!"

      So does this mean you accept my simple definition of metaphysical primacy as an accurate one then? Or are you still going to play avoidance games?

      I don't have to look too far. Instead of answering my questions, you offer your own.

      "Yes, I agree, Rick. Here are the questions"

      Before I answer your questions, I'd like to see the context of where and when you had asked me these questions. Some type of link would have been helpful.

      You ask, "Where does Rand specify “material universe”? You’re reading this into what she says,"
      Hmm. have you tried your Rand Lexcon, Dawson?

      "Everything which exists is finite, including the universe"

      Sounds pretty much like atheist presuppositionalism to me, Dawson. That was under the definition of "universe" by the way.

      "Rick. This *your bias* showing through (again)."

      Um, no. That is your Rand Meta-Atheist Lexicon, Dawson :)

      Looking forward to your answers, Dawson. After I see the context, I'll answer your questions.

      Delete
  4. Rick,

    I have asked you twice now the following questions:

    << 1) If your god wills that an apple exists in a certain location at a certain time, will the apple come into existence as willed or not?

    2) If your god wills that the apple is of the golden delicious variety, will the apple be a golden delicious apple?

    3) If your god wills that the apple becomes a banana, will the apple become a banana?
    >>

    The first time I asked them, you completely ignored them, as if I hadn’t posed them in the first place.

    Now, after posing them to you again, you write: “After I see the context, I'll answer your questions.”

    You have seen the context already. The context here is the Christian worldview. The Christian worldview holds that every apple that has ever existed was created by your god, right? So that’s the relevant context. Which means you already have the context. And yet, you say you’ll answer my questions after you see the context. I don’t think you want to answer these questions for some reason. And yet, you want to assert your god-beliefs as if they were true. But you won’t defend those beliefs.

    I can only suppose that you have no answer here. Or, if you do have an answer, you are reluctant to offer it out of shame.

    Regards,
    Dawson

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dawson,

    You wrote, "I’ve been waiting for you to answer these questions since Jan. 17."

    And I had asked for a link to see the context. Were these questions at all relevant to the thread when you first posted them? Post a link so we can see.

    Your questions don't seem to be at all relevant to this thread on "definitions" and a wild guess says that they probably weren't very relevant to the thread when you posted them.

    You seem to be very enthusiastic about your questions, Dawson. How would you define these? I will address your questions in the near future in a post titled, "Top Atheist Arguments Against God" and I'd like to know if these, "stump the theist" questions are your own creations or are they the gift of someone else I can give credit to?

    Do you believe that your question offer a stronger case against Theism than Rand's materialist presuppositionialist primacy argument?

    By the way, is it possible for you admit that I was not reading into Rand's definition of the universe in stating that her definition of a "finite" universe is a materialist definition of the universe?

    I had once asked you what you believed the strongest argument against Theism is and I haven't yet received an answer. This would be helpful for my post.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Rick,

    These questions were posed to you back on Jan. 17 in the comments of your own blog entry (see here).

    Are you going to answer them?

    Here they are once again:

    <<1) If your god wills that an apple exists in a certain location at a certain time, will the apple come into existence as willed or not?

    2) If your god wills that the apple is of the golden delicious variety, will the apple be a golden delicious apple?

    3) If your god wills that the apple becomes a banana, will the apple become a banana?
    >>

    There were numerous other questions I had posed prior to this which you have also ignored. For example, how can I reliably distinguish between what you call “God” and what you may merely be imagining? Christians of all varieties seem to have an especially difficult time with this one.

    By refusing to answer these direct questions about your god and the relation of its consciousness to objects distinct from itself, you are essentially admitting that my argument is sound and that it hits its intended argument.

    “…in theism, there’s a sense in which reality is subjective - based on the divine mind…” – Christian apologist Paul Manata

    So there we have it: according to theism, reality is subjective since it is based on a mind. You can’t get more subjective than this. This conclusion is unassailable. The theist either admits it, or he continues in denial. Either way, QED.

    Regards,
    Dawson

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    1. >There were numerous other questions I had posed prior to this which you have also ignored.

      It's difficult to determine which comments of yours should be considered important and which are merely long-winded distractions. I will address your three questions here and, hopefully, you will address the questions I have posed to you several times.

      I had asked you if you believed these three questions of yours were a stronger challenge to God's existence than Rand's primacy argument, but you didn't answer that one., among many other questions.

      <<1) If your god wills that an apple exists in a certain location at a certain time, will the apple come into existence as willed or not?

      - It is logically cohesive than an omnipotent God could produce an apple, especially considering that God could produce a universe as well. I offer a challenge to you, Dawson, to refute any of the premises in the following argument:

      The Organizing Principle of the Universe: Hierarchy and the Central Truth

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2012/03/organizing-principle-of-universe.html

      2) If your god wills that the apple is of the golden delicious variety, will the apple be a golden delicious apple?

      3) If your god wills that the apple becomes a banana, will the apple become a banana?>>

      Your next two questions seem to be very similar. The answer to both is yes, in accordance with an omnipotent Creator. There is no logical contradiction. It would be logically incoherent, however, to propose that God could will himself into- and out of existence. Thus, the ridiculous proposal by objectivists that Theism assumes a "primacy of consciousness" metaphysics is fallacious. A simple consideration of the term, "metaphysical primacy" which, for some reason you refuse to define, underscores why the term does not allow for arbitrary censorship, the likes of which objectivists are fond of.

      By the way, I really do not care much for the quote by "Christian apologist Paul Manata" - who is not the ambassador for Theism.

      Beneath your questions is a fallacy known as the fallacy of incredulity.

      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argument_from_incredulity

      I would be ashamed to defend Objectivism with all of the documented deceptive techniques employed. Theism may be difficult to embrace, but it is logically cohesive and does not require he denial of quantum logic, as originally referenced and quoted by Dawson himself:

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2014/01/three-refutations-of-objectivism.html

      “To reject QM as physically wrong is fine. It’s necessary. But it is not merely physically wrong. The deeper rot in QM is the admission of non-identity into physical reasoning. Doing physics right doesn’t merely mean getting the right answers from a mathematical formalism – not while the underlying entities can’t be non-contradictorily grasped. It also means eliminating the contradictions that prevent the clear grasp of the physical entities. And that means rediscovering identity, and admitting back into the basis of physics the real entities that QM gives up on.”



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  7. Rick,

    You wrote: “I had asked you if you believed these three questions of yours were a stronger challenge to God's existence than Rand's primacy argument”

    Actually, you asked “what [I] believed the strongest argument against Theism.” There is a difference between a question and an argument.

    I asked: “1) If your god wills that an apple exists in a certain location at a certain time, will the apple come into existence as willed or not?”

    You replied: “It is logically cohesive than [sic] an omnipotent God could produce an apple, especially considering that God could produce a universe as well.”

    Is that a yes, or a no?

    In response to my next two questions, you wrote: “Your next two questions seem to be very similar. The answer to both is yes, in accordance with an omnipotent Creator.”

    Ah, there we go! Finally a firm answer! So, are you willing to commit yourself to these answers?

    As I pointed out, I can imagine these things too. But how can I reliably distinguish what you call “God” from what you may merely be imagining? When I look outward at the world, I find no evidence that suggests that physical objects originate in and/or conform to conscious activity. I.e., I find no evidence for metaphysical subjectivism. It all seems quite imaginary to me.

    You wrote: “Thus, the ridiculous proposal by objectivists that Theism assumes a ‘primacy of consciousness’ metaphysics is fallacious.”

    Like many, many theists before you, you have just confirmed that this is precisely the case. Thank you!

    You wrote: “By the way, I really do not care much for the quote by ‘Christian apologist Paul Manata’"

    I.e., you don’t like it. So what? He at least admits it.

    You wrote: “who is not the ambassador for Theism.”

    Who today *is* “the ambassador for Theism”? Who determines who is seated in this station? And what would it matter? Manata has been active in public debates defending Christian theism. He admits that according to theism, reality is subjective since it’s based on a mind. Case closed.

    I’m satisfied here, Rick. You have once and for all conceded the debate. Thank you.

    Regards,
    Dawson

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  8. Dawson, to clarify, the affirmative answer I offered to your question 1 may be summarized as a "yes" answer.

    Now that I have answered your three important questions in our debate, do answer the questions I believe are important, as posted in comment #1 of the next post.

    Thank you.

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  9. "Metaphysical primacy" is a central concept in Ayn Rand's central proposition, the 'existence- consciousness' dichotomy. Instead of clarifying specifically what "metaphysical primacy" refers to, Dawson claims that it is a "red herring" to ask for the definition of the central concept of the central argument. No wonder Dawson has made himself scarce, even after I took the time to answer his three important questions.

    1. Learning the tenets of the definition of the central concept of Rand's central argument would help to elucidate the truth of that argument.

    2. Dawson Bethrick refuses to define or clarify what Rand's "metaphysical primacy" specifically refers to.

    3. Therefore, it is evident that Dawson is not really interested in elucidating the truth of Rand's central argument.

    We can also see this avoidance of truth clearly in the fact that Dawson refuses to admit that Rand's definitions of "existence" and "universe" presuppose materialism.

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    Replies
    1. This is quite strange Rick. Dawson has lots and lots of posts where he clearly and carefully explains what is meant by metaphysical primacy and how and why it is important. Maybe you should check his latest post where he gives you plenty of links where you will find answers to everything you ask. Many of those were posts specifically written as answers to your posts over here. Maybe you did not read those carefully enough.

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    2. >Dawson has lots and lots of posts where he clearly and carefully explains what is meant by metaphysical primacy and how and why it is important.

      - Photosynthesis, your first comment is truly astounding. As opposed to addressing and answering my points and questions in his comments at my blog, Dawson has either avoided my questions or brought up repeated distractions. I'll offer a few early examples and then offer you an opportunity to defend Dawson's responses.

      In an article titled, Rand's Primacy of Existence Argument Refuted, that includes a previously posted argument referring to Dawson’s previous comments, I outlined premises documenting why the objectivist use of the concept of “metaphysical primacy” is invalid and fallacious:

      Argument Identifying the Invalid Objectivist Primacy of Consciousness Definition

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2014/01/rands-primacy-of-existence-argument.html

      As noted in quotes within that article, Bethrick did not deny his noted metaphysical cherry picking, he rather attempted to justify it. He offered an analogy of “lying” as a supposed justification for metaphysical cherry picking. I offered reasons why this was a very poor analogy, but Dawson never addressed my points:

      “Why is Bethrick’s lying analogy an extremely poor example of metaphysical primacy regarding Premise 4? First, it is based on a specious objection that powers and concepts must “cancel out” each other, as I pointed out in my rebuttal to Bethrick’s Premise 4 comments.

      Second, his analogy misses the most important aspects in question. The aspect of context is important. And the aspect of the degree of strength is the critical. These considerations that should not be neglected.” I offer two analogies of my own to demonstrate why objectivist cherry picking is not valid:

      Physical Primacy as an Analogy of Rand’s Metaphysical Primacy

      Heavy Weight Championship Fight Analogy of Rand’s Metaphysical Primacy

      Photosynthesis,

      In the comments of that article, Dawson does not once attempt to justify and defend his “lying” analogy of metaphysical primacy that I had refuted.

      Dawson does not once attempt to address or refute my two analogies countering his “lying” analogy.

      Instead of addressing my points, Dawson begins a diversion in repeatedly ask me for a source of MY definition of metaphysical primacy, as if it were my philosophy that presents "metaphysical primacy" as the be all and end all question of questions.

      1. Photosynthesis, do point out where Dawson "clearly and carefully" defends his "lying" analogy of metaphysical primacy after I refuted it.

      2. Photosynthesis, point out where Dawson "clearly and carefully" addresses my two analogies of metaphysical primacy, as noted above, that demonstrate why objectivist usage of the concept of "metaphysical primacy" is invalid and fallacious.

      3. Photosynthesis, if Objectvism is a sound philosophy, offer your opinion as to why Dawson is justified in his unwillingness to "clearly and carefully" offer a practical definition of "metaphysical primacy," which is the central theme of the central argument of Objectivism.

      If Dawson cannot provide such a practical definition himself, then in what possible manner is Dawson justified in his refusal to clarify whether or not my definition of "metaphysical primacy" is either valid or invalid?

      Please supply answers to these points and questions, Photosynthesis, then we'll consider some more recent distractions by Bethrick and the likely reason why it is that I'm willing to address his critical questions but he performs impromptu disappearing acts when it is his turn to answer the critical questions I have for him.

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    3. PhotoS,

      >Maybe you should check his latest post where he gives you plenty of links where you will find answers...

      - This is an old tactic of evasion. I have offered very straightforward points and questions at this blog and Dawson has refused to address or answer them. I have answered his three 'stump the theist' questions he considered very important. Yet, when it is my turn to ask questions, Dawson disappears.

      The old, "this link addresses your point" is an old diversion that a blogger named Havok used to offer at my blog frequently. In reality, the links usually did not address the specific questions I had asked. If Dawson does in fact have answers to my simple questions, they could be summed up in a few sentences. Why don't you defend Dawson and address some of the questions in my previous comment.

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    4. Rick,

      Seems like the one using diversionary tactics is yourself. I told you that Dawson has carefully explained what metaphysical primacy means. That many of those explanations were written for you. That therefore maybe you did not read them carefully enough.

      This was an answer to the accusation you made just above my first comment, which is obviously false. Dawson has never refused to explain what metaphysical primacy means. Therefore telling me about lying analogies, etc, is a diversion from the fact that Dawson has explained what metaphysical primacy means.

      The links were provided to you in order to refresh your memory. It can't be an evasion if those links are things you were supposed to read before you could make any attempt at answering. Right? Are you telling us that you answered without reading any of that carefully?

      Note in passing: I am not sure yet if I am an objectivist. But I have found Objectivism to be quite reasonable so far.

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    5. PhotoS,


      You didn't address the specific points and subjects I brought up to you in reply, but instead again suggested I should go searching for answers at Bethrick's site, even after he has declined to answer simple questions at my blog. Bethrick had offered an "analogy" as a means of elucidating his view on metaphysical primacy. I critiqued his analogy and offered two of my own, as I noted and linked to. But instead of addressing cogent points, you simply offer empty rhetoric.

      Suppose we consider a specific hypothetical case. Suppose we consider "physical primacy" as an analogy of "metaphysical primacy" and consider which physical law holds physical primacy in the universe.

      Suppose Dawson had claimed:

      "I believe that gravity holds physical primacy over all physical laws and my understanding and definition of the law of gravity relates only to objects that free-fall onto planet Earth within the Earth's atmosphere. No other examples or conditions of gravity may apply in accordance with my views."

      Do you understand, PhotoS, why this statement would be logically unacceptable as a means of proposing that his view of "physical primacy" is correct?

      Let's have a specific answer to this specific question, OK?

      Delete
    6. Again Rick. You claim that Dawson has refused to define what metaphysical primacy means. He hasn't. He has explained that quite carefully to you. In comments and posts directed at you. Therefore, your claim that he refuses to define it is patently false. Why do you offer me instead all of these red-herrings? If you did not like his definition then say that you don't like his definitions. But don't say that he refuses to offer you those very definitions. Clear now?

      Again: I said nothing about whether you should or should not accept his definitions. I said that Dawson has offered definitions, examples, and explanations about what all of that means. That's it.

      Salut.

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    7. PS, you are exhibiting troll-like behavior. You decline to answer my simple question and instead post false statements.

      A) If Dawson has posted an adequate "definition" of metaphysical primacy, then post it here for all of us to see.

      B) If Dawson has posted adequate and "careful" explanations of his use of "metaphysical primacy" then answer the question I had asked you:

      Suppose Dawson had claimed:

      "I believe that gravity holds physical primacy over all physical laws and my understanding and definition of the law of gravity relates only to objects that free-fall onto planet Earth within the Earth's atmosphere. No other examples or conditions of gravity may apply in accordance with my views."

      Do you understand, PhotoS, why this statement would be logically unacceptable as a means of proposing that his view of "physical primacy" is correct?

      The fact is, PS, Dawson has offered no such "definition" in any of his comments at my blog, nor has he defended his lame "lying" analogy of metaphysical primacy. This was addressed by me in a post:

      "Why is Bethrick’s lying analogy an extremely poor example of metaphysical primacy regarding Premise 4? First, it is based on a specious objection that powers and concepts must “cancel out” each other, as I pointed out in my rebuttal to Bethrick’s Premise 4 comments."

      http://templestream.blogspot.com/2014/01/rands-primacy-of-existence-argument.html

      Do post a link to any comment at that post (or in the comments of any other post at my blog) where Dawson adequately defends his lame "lying" analogy.





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    8. Rick,

      How would my trying to keep the focus on what I said, rather than, ahem, going into your diversions, make me a troll?

      Here's what I said:
      This is quite strange Rick. Dawson has lots and lots of posts where he clearly and carefully explains what is meant by metaphysical primacy and how and why it is important. Maybe you should check his latest post where he gives you plenty of links where you will find answers to everything you ask. Many of those were posts specifically written as answers to your posts over here. Maybe you did not read those carefully enough.

      I never said anything about lying analogies, or gravitations. So why these diversions Rick?

      Why is it so hard for you to admit that you were mistaken about Dawson not providing those definitions and explanations? In which way does that harm you other than showing that you did not read Dawson's comments carefully enough before answering them?

      Here Dawson lists many of the paragraphs and phrases where he gave you definitions and explanations about metaphysical primacy:

      http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.ca/2014/02/at-loss-for-words-rick-wardens-latest.html

      See ya.

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    9. PS,

      You've basically confirmed that you have no interest in an honest discussion or debate. Again, you decline to address my straightforward and simple points and questions noted in my previous comment. Instead you claim that my relevant points and questions are "diversions". I don't have time to feed the trolls, sorry. I won't be wasting any more time attempting to dialogue with you. If anyone else wishes to address the points and questions Photosynthesis and Dawson Bethrick have been avoiding, you are more than welcome to.

      Delete

You are welcome to post comments but, please, no uncivilized blog abuse. I reserve the right to ignore any comments that are abusive, off-topic, or patently false. I don't have time to waste feeding the trolls.