Category Archives: Core philosophy

Autonomous obedience vs. autonomous legislation

In the course of several posts I have struggled to articulate what I hope to show by justifying a moral principle for male sexuality and how I should go about showing it. The principle, in agreement with traditional Catholic morality, stated:

Thou shall not intentionally seek an orgasm except in coitus open to conception with a woman to whom you are committed for life to care for her and any child resulting from the coitus.

I hoped to show that independently of religious considerations, a man who follows, or struggles to follow, the principle has a character trait which makes him a better human being – a man closer to being as he ought to be than if he followed any other principle for sexuality.

I came to the conclusion that any arguments for the principle would have to be based on assumptions or, as I say, from a stance. Consequently, the arguments might not be compelling for all intelligent people. From a stance, arguments should be of two types. One line of argument would show that activity in accord with the principle is rational activity. Another line of argument would show that activity in accord with the principle is directed towards attaining and maintaining conditions good for human beings over and beyond the good of being rational. With respect to the principle for male sexuality, the human good would be life-long monagamous marriage.

I need to emphasize a feature of the human goods. They are not goods independent from morality with morality being a means to their attainment. The human goods attained and maintained by activity in accordance with the principle are not conditions apart from activity in accordance with the principle. Activity in accord with the principle is not only a means to the good but also a feature of the good brought about. For instance, activity in accord with a principle for traditional male sexuality not only produces a good marriage but it is also part of a good marriage.

I do not need to invent new arguments. For showing that the rationality of the activity, I can adapt arguments from what some call “The Old Natural Law Theory” or better: Thomistic Moral Theology. For showing that activity in accordance with the principle is directed towards human flourishing, I can adapt arguments from what is frequently called “New Natural Law Theory.”

I write of adapting the arguments because I do not make any assumption that an intelligent human being will take activity in accordance with the principle as morally binding upon clearly understanding the line of argument. There is still need for someone to choose to be obligated or something to impose the moral obligation.

As I interpret both types of natural law theories, they hold that nature -reality- formed human nature so that once a human being clearly recognizes that a principle promotes rational activity directed toward human good the human being because of a law for its nature chooses to be bound by and follow the principle. I believe that to be morally bound by a law there must always be the possibility of rejecting the law.

So I concluded my previous post confessing that I still felt that I had not uncovered all that I hoped for in a justification for a moral principle. Now I think that I can articulate what Ithought was lacking. I wanted to show that the moral principle is true and I do not think that reasoning alone brings us to moral truth.

Here is how the issue of truth comes up. After being persuaded by the arguments that activity in accord with the principle is rational and directed towards human good, there still needs to be imposition of a moral obligation to act in accord with this principle. This imposition could be self imposed or imposed by something outside our self.

Self imposed obligation could be called “autonomous moral legislation.” Unfortunately, autonomous moral legislation might be only a human decision to make such a moral rule. The rule could be invented; not discovered. It might be invented in response to our reasoning.

But how could a rule-an imperative- be discovered in thought independent reality? What corresponded to a rule in reality would not be a fact or a descriptive law of nature. It would have to be something like a command. At this time, the best I can say that the aspect of mind-independent reality corresponding to a moral law would be something we “hear” rather than “see,” and have the possibility of being accepted and obeyed or being rejected and disobeyed. If, and this is a huge “if,” there is something like hearing an imperative from mind independent reality, then there is a true or actual imperative. Still, though, there is a need for a choice to accept or reject the imperative. This could be called the “autonomy of obedience.”

If there is a place for autonomy of moral obedience, then we can talk of moral laws being true.

Consider a definition of “truth” which extends it to include truth for norms.

Truth for facts and norms

For facts to think what is true is to think of what is that it is and to think of what is not that it is not.
For norms to think what is true is to accept as obligatory what ought to be and to accept as forbidden what ought not be.

But if we can receive moral laws from an moral authority in mind independent reality, what is the role of arguments for moral principles? The arguments are valuable checks on illusions with respect to hearing the moral law, they help us to articulate what we hope to discover as true, they show others the plausibility of our rules and may lead others to investigate our moral rules. *

In my book, I struggled in Chapter XI with laying out what beyond reasoning needs to be done to discover what we ought to do.

* My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. See Ch. IV for my justification see pp. 72ff. for discussion of moral harm. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
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Inconsistency of Moral Thinking Resolved by Moral Skepticism

It is embarrassingly conceited even to link my fumbling with contradictions in basic concepts of moral thinking with the brilliant investigations of the contradictions in basic concepts of mathematical thinking by Bertrand Russell et al in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Nonetheless, there are some parallels which help clarify what I am trying to accomplish.

I only outline the main steps in finding the inconsistency in mathematical thinking. Mathematical logicians had shown that all mathematical thinking could be represented as thinking about natural numbers. G. Frege showed that all thinking about natural numbers could be represented as thinking about classes. A basic principle for thinking about classes was that there is a class consisting of the extension of any property. Russell considered the property “the class of all classes which do not belong to itself.” A law of excluded middle of the form: for any classes x and y, x belongs to y or x does not belong to y, was accepted as fundamental in mathematical thinking. An explicit contradiction is reached when both x and y are taken as the classes of all classes which do not belong to themselves.

Of course, the set theory contradiction did not hinder mathematical development in any way. For one, mathematical thinking does not depend upon going back to some foundational ideas such as set theory. Secondly, and relevant to my project, is that the contradictions can be resolved by altering the conceptual scheme for thinking about classes. For example, some set theorists restricted the kinds of properties whose extensions were classes.

It is the altering of the conceptual scheme which links my reflections on moral thinking with the foundational work in mathematics. Altering the conceptual scheme leads to a type of skepticism. First, it suggests that our ways of thinking are human inventions for thinking about the way things are. Insofar as they are our inventions the ways of thinking might contain components peculiar to humans and thus not accurately tell us now things really are apart from our thinking. If there were only one way of removing the contradiction, we might have some basis for thinking that we now had the right way of thinking about the topic. Unfortunately, as will be shown in subsequent posts, there are several ways of resolving the contradiction. As a result, one has to take a stance that one specific way of thinking about morality is the correct way.

Of course, conceding that there is no right way to resolve the fundamental contradiction in moral thinking is not conceding that there is no right way to think morally. Indeed a possible stance, which I take, is that after qualifications in the notion of an authoritarian morality to allow acceptance of “Some harm ought to be” we have attained the correct way of moral thinking. I have to concede, though, that I might have taken the wrong stance.

Let me put it as follows. I take the stance “There are absolute moral principles which correctly express the normativity in reality.” I concede that I might be mistaken about reality by taking such a stance. Moral skepticism is not moral relativism. There is only one correct way of thinking about morality. Unfortunately, I am not absolutely certain that I have the correct way.

This means that moral arguments have two phases: First, persuade someone to take your stance. Second, convince the other of the correctness of your reasoning within the stance. Also the need to take a stance implies that there may be irresolvable moral disputes.

A significant difference between the mathematical and moral resolution of a basic contradiction is that in the mathematical case a person can enjoy working with the different set theories. In the moral case, only a cynic, switches from one stance to the other. It is morally significant to take a stance and stay with it.

Inconsistency of Moral Thinking

This post brings out a fundamental logical contradiction in our ordinary everyday moral thinking. By moral thinking I am referring to ways of thinking about right and wrong, what is good and how to get it apart from any effort to avoid inconsistencies. The moral rules are supposed to say what is obligatory and forbidden for all human beings and over-ride any other type of rule.

Our ordinary ways of thinking about morals take both rule following-deontological thinking and good pursuing -teleological thinking- as fundamental. Holding deontological and teleological thinking as fundamental produces the inconsistency. Pursuit of fundamental goods are required by fundamental rules.

The obligatory goods are various conditions which constitute a full human life. They are conditions such as knowledge, meaningfulness, enjoying beauty, liberty, sufficient food. It is a task for philosophers, where “philosophy” is to be understood as wisdom, to elaborate on the conditions which make for a full human life. Most people will have deficiency in enjoying these basic human goods. Maybe everyone will always have some deficiency with respect to these goods.

The so-called New Natural Law writings of Grizse, Finnis et al. have influenced my thought on basic human goods.

Once we have specified what is good we can specify what “harm” means when I write of “moral harm.” To produce harm is to bring about a deficiency in these basic goods.

This definition of “harm” brings us close to bringing out the inconsistency once we recall that the so-called first principle of natural moral thinking is an apparent truism in everyday moral thinking. This truism is not true at all. It contains the fundamental contradiction.

Do good, avoid evil.

This principle tells us:
Promote the basic human goods and never produce harm.
A corollary is:
There ought never be harm. Or

NO HARM OUGHT TO BE.

However, we have several moral laws commanding that basic human goods be promoted and never deliberately inhibited.

But laws, which are not mere words, carrying sanctions. They specify that harm ought to result upon their violation.

So, assuming that some moral laws have been violated we have

SOME HARM OUGHT TO BE.

So, here we have uncovered the inconsistency in everyday uncritical moral thinking.

Subsequent posts sketch out ways of avoiding this inconsistency.

Core Concepts of Authoritarian Morality

In this post, I sketch out signigicant features of the moral authority in authoritarian moral thought. In passing, it is shown how authoritarian moral thought confronts Plato’s dilemma challenging authoritarian moral thought in his dialogue Euthyphro.

Previous posts brought out that moral thinking requires a concept of a being who commands the laws of morality, who cares that the laws of morality are obeyed, who commands that harm ought to result when moral laws are violated and who has the capability to have it brought about that the harm prescribed for violations of the moral laws actually occurs.

The issuing of prescriptions that harm ought to result from
violations of the moral laws can be called the wrath of the moral authority. Moral thought requires, further, a fear of disobeying the commands of this moral authority and incurring its wrath.. This fear of the moral authority can be called respect for the moral laws.

My goal is to draw out from my understanding of moral thought, the basic thoughts and feelings of all moral thinking. I appreciate that my goal seems an egotistical delusion. But reliance on personal analysis of the randomly assembled fragments of conversations and readings that happen to come my way is, I submit, a philosophers material for analysis. But for awhile I will limit my claims to what can be called, in light of my analyses, authoritarian moral thought.

In some later posts, I need to sketch out some account of my belief that individual people can uncover universal structural features of human thinking because the basic structure of any individual’s thinking is common to every individual person’s thought.

An important feature is transparency. The moral authority is a aware of all violations of moral laws. There is no way to evade this awareness of moral violations. I have been chided for having an allegedly childish concept of God as one who knows and judges all that we do. Actually I consider myself mature for holding and developing a concept of God as at least the all-knowing moral judge. Having a fully developed way of thinking about morality requires maturity.

Immutability is also an important feature of a moral authority. Recognition of immutability is especially helpful when we are challenged with the question based on Plato’s Euthyphro: Does the moral authority command it because it is right or is what the moral authority commands right simply because the authority commands it? If we answer “yes” to the first question, our answer presupposes that there is a standard of right and wrong apart form the moral authority. If so, the moral authority is not the foundation of our obligations; but the standard which it uses is the foundation. If we answer “yes” to the second question we are confronted with the objection that then torturing babies for amusement could be right if the authority commanded it.

What is immutability? If we accept a moral law we cannot imagine what it would be like for it to be changed. We cannot imagine the moral authority changing it. If we accept that the moral authority has condemned torturing babies we cannot conceive of it switching over to permitting it; much less commanding it. This is what it means to say that the moral authority has immutability with respect to laws. But the immutability is not total. The moral authority changes with respect to the ad hoc prescriptions for harm. The moral authority cancels them if the harm is inflicted or if the moral authority shows mercy.

In answer to the Euthyphro challenge, we should answer “yes” to the second question. We do not worry about claims that the authority could command acts and principles we already accept on its authority. We can not even think of the contrary to fact hypotheticals starting with, “Suppose the authority commanded X”, where X is something seriously in conflict with morality we have already accepted.

Connected with the immutability of moral laws is the autonomy of the moral authority. Nothing but the legislation of the moral authority is needed to validate its laws.

The full-fledged concept of God in the Judeo-Christian religions suffices for the concept of a moral authority. However, it is not necessary to have a concept of the Judeo-Christian God to have a concept of a moral authority. Concepts of lesser deities suffice. Monotheism is not required. The moral authority need not be the creator of all that is. The moral authority need not be all-powerful. The moral authority may be in a struggle with an evil deity as in Manicheanism or Zoroastrianism . The moral authority may have other beings exercise its wrath as did the Furies in Greek mythology. The moral authority need not have any compassion for wrong doers. It need never show mercy or forgiveness. It could demand that every prescription for harm as a result of wrong doing be carried out.

In the authoritarian stance on morality, the moral authority has to have some type of mentality or intentionality. It has to be regarded as in some way being aware of and caring about human affairs.
Total materialists can recognize no moral authority.

A very significant feature of the moral authority would be benevolence. We recognize the benevolence of the lawgiver in our recognition that the general laws are, if obeyed, for human flourishing. Morality does not consist of pointless rules imposed on us. Understanding the moral authority as benevolent leads to having a concept of obligatory goods. The rules of a benevolent moral authority would specify that certain conditions for human flourishing such as life and liberty ought to be promoted and never inhibited. Those who accept a benevolent moral authority hold that morality has goals beyond avoiding punishment for disobeying the rules. In terminology of moral theory, those who accept a benevolent moral authority have a moral theory which is both deontological and telological

Unfortunately for developing my preferred moral stance, I have to admit that concept of moral authority by itself does not entail benevolence. In principle, the moral authority could be arbitrary. Those who accept a moral authority as arbitrary hold that no reason can or need be given for obedience to the rules beyond avoiding harm by disobeying the rules.

Compassion Undercuts Morality

This brief post draws a corollary from the theme of my previous post You Can’t Have Morality and Deny That There Is Moral Harm. in that post I pointed out that it is irrational to claim “X ought not be done but no one ought to suffer harm if X is done.”

Here I call “Full compassion” a belief and attitude that no one ought ever suffer harm. Of course, full compassion is not ordinary compassion for some individual we see suffering. So-called full compassion requires reflection. However, I submit that it is a widely held attitude. It does not require some bizarre philosophy to develop a belief that we ought to prevent all harm and if that is not possible we ought to alleviate harm as much as we can. But thinking that we ought to struggle to prevent or alleviate all harm is incompatible with seriously thinking that some acts are morally wrong.

Acceptance of morality requires accepting some “hardness of heart.” To be moral we have to be prepared to let some harm happen or even on occasion to inflict harm!

You Can’t Have Morality and Deny that There is Moral Harm

The goal of my exploration of a concept of moral harm is not development of a theory of punishment ; let alone a theory of retributive punishment.

I offered a post The Virtue of Taking Retribution in which my main goal was to show that the notion of moral harm could be used to articulate a concept of punishment as an effort to repair moral harm. Punishment understood as infliction of harm to repair moral harm is retribution.

I admitted that the punishment could have goals such as deterrence, re-education and prevention which all in some way harm the perpetrator. However, the initiation of harm on a perpetrator needed to be for retribution and the amount of harm from deterrence etc., had to be guided in some way by the thought of proper retribution. This discussion was too sketchy to be offered as a theory. It only showed a link between the concept of moral harm and concepts used in developing theories of punishment.

If I am developing any theory, it is a theory that the notion I am articulating as moral harm represents a fundamental notion in human moral thinking. My remarks on punishment were offered primarily to support my theory about the fundamental role of the concept of moral harm in our web of moral concepts. Helping make sense of the notion of retributive punishment provides evidence for the notion of moral harm as fundamental.

Here I want to show that it is inconsistent to make a moral judgment and deny that there is moral harm. I hope that simply reading the claims alleged to be inconsistent will
convince readers of the claims being an assertion along with a rejection of what is asserted.

I consider what I think are the two levels of moral imperatives: Second person and first person.

Second person moral judgments are standard. The judgments are made that a plurality, usually everyone, ought not do such-and-such.
It is inconsistent to assert: X ought not be done but nothing harmful ought to happen if X is done.

For those who might develop a moral theory that each individual had to decide for a particular situation what he ought to do, it is still inconsistent to assert: I ought not do X but nothing harmful ought to happen if I do X.

Values Are As Fundamental As Facts

Our goal is to show that basic moral rules of traditional sexual morality are correct rules because they adequately express the structure of nature or reality. There is a widespread assumption, some times called scientism, that nature apart from human thinking and feeling consists only of facts and scientific laws of nature Scientism is an assumption that moral laws and values cannot adequately express the structure of nature.

A question of these blog posts is whether or not moral laws, especially the laws of traditional sexual morality, adequately express the structure of nature. So it is a fallacy of begging-the-question to assume scientism.

There is no reason to assume scientism. Factual thinking and moral thinking are equally fundamental in that part of nature where there is obviously thinking. That part of nature is human thinking. Without special effort to control how we think, our thinking is a complex mixture of thinking what is, what is not along with what ought to be and what ought not to be. Thinking about what is can be called descriptive thinking while thinking about what ought to be is normative thinking. There is no escape from this mixture of descriptive and normative thinking.. If we raise the question of whether or not we ought to control our thinking to get the facts before making any judgments about what ought or ought not be done, we have obviously already thought about what ought or ought not be done.

So, if thinking represents reality or nature, nature contains both what is the case and what ought to be the case. If we use seeing as a model for getting the facts and hearing as a model for responding to the normativity in nature, both looking and listening are crucial for thinking correctly about nature.

This line of thought takes the approach of so-called modern philosophy initiated by Descartes, (1596-1650). This modern approach of philosophy specifies that we start philosophizing by paying attention to our thinking. Of course, assuming that we start critical thinking about reality by paying attention to our thinking about reality is not to assume that reality is nothing but thinking. In a thought there can be that which makes it be something real apart from thinking.

The modern approach leaves room for a skeptical doubt that there is nothing but thinking. In all our philosophical thinking we are thinking about thinking. We do not directly encounter the being which makes our thoughts a reality we encounter. So, it is not logically inconsistent to suggest that our thoughts are not real. But is it not clear that when we encounter thinking we are encounter something real – something which has being? So, we can set aside the suggestion that there is no being except thinking.

I will avoid discussing these fundamental issues about reality in subsequent blog posts. But it must be admitted that my arguments for laws of traditional sexual morality, presuppose that there is a reality which our descriptive and normative thinking can accurately represent.

My book on sexual morality makes this assumption of realism. My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. These blog posts are in effect work towards a 2nd edition. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
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Christian Re-enchantment X: Review

I am returning to writing blog posts after a delay from January 22, 2018 until today June 19, 2018. I felt no desire to carry on the careful philosophical analysis of my religious belief. I was not accomplishing anthing. I intended it to be analysis of religious belief in general. But honesty requires admitting I wrote only of my religious belief.

I had become involved with subtle distinctions between statements such as:
A. Jesus changed water into wine at Cana.
B. I believe that Jesus changed water into wine at Cana.
C. We believe that Jesus changed water into wine at Cana.

These subtle distinctions are intriguing to this retired philosophy professor. They are, I’m sure, boring and obscure to almost anyone else. So my efforts at philosophical sophistication undercuts the purpose of these blog posts on Christianity. I am putting these blog posts on the internet to evangelize. I “labelled my efforts at evangelization “Christian Re-enchantment” because I wanted to show that there can be a single narrative of nature and the human condition whose components are,

1. reality as science would have it,
2. Gospel miracles – especially the resurrection of Jesus
3. doctrines of Christian theology.

A Christian view of reality accepts truth claims from all three components. These discussions exposed my reluctance to accept that we are living in a Christian reality. I constantly slipped back into belief scientism which holds that there is nothing but reality as science would have it. My analysis was not helping my Christian faith; let alone that of anyone else. So I will stop this analysis of my belief in a Christian reality. I will simply write on a variety of topics about the human condition and morality as if there are truth claims from all components of Christian reality. I hope that I am not mistaken in assuming that some of the Gospel miracles really occurred and Christian doctrines about post mortem rewards and punishments are true. In any event, I intend to die under this assumption.

My confidence in this assumption waxes and wans. How I feel and events I experience are causal factors in my degree of confidence. But I do not let my confidence, or lack thereof, change my stance that truth claims from all three components can be true. This does not mean that if an occasion arises for supporting a Christian truth claim, I will not try to make a case that it is a correct claim to make. Indeed the assumption that there can be correct Christian truth claims provides the rationale for giving reasons for them. Absent an assumption that the Christian claims could be true, there would be no motivation for trying to show that they are true.

With care a Christian stance on reality can be held consistently. There need be no logical contradictions between claims a Christian accepts as true. In particular there need be no logical contradiction between biblical and theological claims on one hand and claims of natural science on the other. I am simply repeating the oft made claim that there need be no logical contradictions between religious beliefs and claims of natural science. However,I must recognize the “logical price” I pay for reconciling science and my Catholic faith. And I think all who struggle to reconcile religions and science will have to pay this price. The price of having a logically consistent Christian stance toward reality is having an incoherent stance towards reality. By “incoherent stance” I mean that the law of excluded middle does not hold in the logic we use for describing all of reality. Excluded middle is not a law of logic

( In this connection, please see my previous postUnrealistic Fictions.)

Let me illustrate. Consider “Jesus changed water into wine at Cana or Jesus did not change water into wine at Cana.” A Christian should not say that this disjunction is necessarily true even if he goes on to claim that exactly on of the disjuncts is true. Talking biblically I would assert that Jesus did change water into wine. talking scientifically I concede that there is strong evidence that Jesus did not change water into wine. Nonetheless, I assert as true that Jesus did change water into wine at Cana.

Excluded middle not being a principle of logic means that I think reality has gaps because sometimes neither a claim P nor its denial not-P is true. For instance, consider “Jesus cured Peter of a stammer or Jesus did not cure Peter of a stammer.” In my stance towards reality there is no answer to whether or not Jesus cured a speech defect in Peter. It is not merely that it is unknown about whether Jesus cured Peter. It is that there is no fact one way or the other; that is a “gap” in reality.

I will not labor this point about excluded middle further. It is enough that I admit that with respect to logic the language I use to talk about fictions is the same as the language I use when I intend to how reality is.

Advertisement:
My book on sexual morality requires no narrative about enchanted realities other than the everyday one about our thoughts and feeling. But the traditional sexual morality I justify on purely secular grounds receives more motivation if placed in a Judeo-Christian framework.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Christian Re enchantment VIII, Hiding behind “I believe”

My exploration of how to re-enchant the world so that the Christian narrative accurately describes reality is progressively exposing to me weakness in my faith. There is a building resistance to letting myself be a participant in reality so described. I fear that being a participant in a Christian reality with its miracles and entities beyond the scope of natural science is a much stronger faith than mine. I am convinced that a Christian description of reality is consistent with natural science and that there are good reasons for accepting that such a description tells the truth about reality. Nonetheless, my Christian faith is holding a theory about reality rather than living in a Christian reality.

This post touches on some topics much discussed by professional philosophers. I do not cite the professional literature because what I write is rather elementary and contributes nothing to the professional literature. I am always glad, though, to discover how useful the apparently verbal issues of professional academic philosophy are to clarifying, to me at least, fundamental issues of existential concern.

In this post I draw implications about the weakness of my faith from my preference for expressing my faith with indirect discourse statements of the form of [I believe that P,] where P is some direct discourse statement about a religiously significant reality such as “Jesus rose from the dead” or “Jesus died on the cross for our sins.”

In the previous post, I alluded to how an indirect discourse statement such as “I know that I love you” is emotionally weaker than the direct discourse statement “I love you.” What makes indirect discourse weaker? With indirect discourse you talk directly about what you think and indirectly about that to which your thought refers. So, with “I know that I love you” you talk about your thought of loving and the person referred to with the pronoun “you”. With the direct discourse “I love you” you talk of yourself in relation to the person you love. Talking directly of your thought of love instead of the beloved weakens the declaration of love. Why say that indirect discourse is about thoughts?

Let me use some terminology which would need more precise definition if this were a professional philosophical discussion. What our words stand for are their extensions Thus me and to whomever I declared my love are the extensions of “I” and “you” respectively. The meaning of our terms, what we think when using them, especially full sentences are the intension of terms. Thus the thought of my loving that person to whom I declare my love is the intension of “I love you.”

The object of an indirect discourse statement is an intension in which terms stand for extensions. So intensions are different from the extensions which usually are our primary concern.

There are a wide variety of indirect discourse statements using terms such as “know,” “believe,” “hope,” “wonder,” etc.,. I focus on “believe.” These terms are often called “propositional attitudes” because they say how someone thinks about a proposition which I have here called intensions

Why say that the indirect discourse statement “I believe that Jesus rose from the dead” is about the intension of the sentence “Jesus rose from the dead” instead of Jesus and his rising from the dead?

Here’s where we touch on a topic much discussed by professional philosophers. I adopt an argument style frequently used by professional philosophers.

Assume that it is a fact that Jesus is a man whose maternal grandfather is Joachim.

Consider the following argument where the conclusion validly follows from the two premises.

1] “Jesus rose from the dead” is true..
2] Jesus = the man whose maternal grandfather is Joachim.
Therefore:
3] “The man whose maternal grandfather is Joachim rose from the dead” is true..

The conclusion follows because, when we are referring to extensions, equals may be substituted for one another without changing the truth value of claims into which they are substituted. This is because when we are talking about the extra mental facts the terms used to pick out the components of those facts don’t change the facts.

Now consider this next argument where substitution of equals fails. The argument is invalid.

(1) “I believe that Jesus rose from the dead” is true
(2) Jesus = the man whose maternal grandfather is Joachim.
Therefore:
(3) “I believe that the man whose maternal grandfather is Joachim rose from the dead” is true.

It may be a fact that I believe that Jesus rose from the dead while I do not believe that the man whose maternal grandfather is Joachim rose from the dead. I may not believe anything about a man whose maternal grandfather is Joachim because I may never have thought about who Jesus’ maternal grandparents were.

Substitution of coreferential terms fails when we substitute such terms in the propositions or intensions in indirect discourse statements; or, in the sentences after propositional attitudes. This is because what is thought about in indirect discourse claims are something which depends upon how we think about it. Something which depends upon how we think about it, certainly is not something which exists independently of our thinking. It is reasonable to classify such things as mental.

A reason professional philosophers find propositional attitudes so problematic is that it seems that science, let alone ordinary thinking cannot be carried on without use of some propositional attitudes. We need to think critically. Critical thinking requires attention to what we believe. So the careful thought of science requires attention to something mental, viz. our beliefs. Yet the mental is not subject to full treatment by natural science. So those who hold the ideology of scientism would like somehow to avoid any use of indirect discourse. (Scientism is an ideology which holds that there is nothing but what can be explained by natural science.)

I am not upset that use of indirect discourse leads me to accept a realm of mental events not fully explained by natural science. I do not hold scientism. I am only disturbed by the fact that use of indirect discourse, in particular by use of the propositional attitude [I believe that P], enables me to express completely my Catholic faith without directly encountering the beings, events and processes about which I have beliefs. I do not speak directly of them. I fear that I am afraid to speak directly of them. Do I unconsciously accept scientism?
Advertisement:
My book on sexual morality requires no narrative about enchanted realities other than the everyday one about our thoughts and feeling. But the traditional sexual morality I justify on purely secular grounds receives more motivation if placed in a Judeo-Christian framework.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

Christian re-enchantment VII, Doxastic Aphasia

In the English Standard Version of Paul’s letter to the Romans we can read at Rm 10:9
“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

A significant part of my problem of perceiving reality to be enchanted as a Christian narrative describes it, lies in the fact that I cannot sincerely follow Paul’s instruction. I have a sense of pretending to be someone different from myself, perhaps someone with the faith of a child, if I use “Jesus” as the subject of a fact stating sentence about the person to whom I should refer with “Jesus.” For instance, I cannot sincerely, without what I feel as cringing, state as facts “Jesus rose from the dead” “Jesus fed 5,000 with five loaves and two fish” or “Jesus was crucified for me.”

This problem occurs primarily with use of direct discourse. I am sometimes embarrassed to use indirect discourse to make a claims about myself along the lines of ” I believe that Jesus us Lord” or “I believe that Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish.” But most of the time, especially amongst fellow Catholics, I have no hesitation saying that I believe core Christian doctrines. Philosophically technical issues about the difference between direct and indirect discourse are to be discussed in my next post on Christian re-enchantment. To get a hint of this point reflect on the difference between the direct discourse “I love you” and the indirect discourse “I believe that I love you” or even “I know with absolute certainty that I love you.”

The sense of pretending or the inward cringing suppresses such statements as statements of what I belief. I can say the words but I cannot say them as what I belief. The suppression of believing the words is analogous to blockings of speech called aphasia. Doxastic is a term based on the Greek word doxa for belief. So the clinical sounding term “doxastic aphasia” is a suitable label for my inability to use direct discourse to confess with my mouth “Jesus is Lord.” This verbal blockage comes from whatever produces the inward cringing that suppresses me from believing in my heart,i.e., sincerely saying to myself, “Jesus is Lord,” let alone “God raised Jesus from the dead.”

As a practicing Catholic my doxastic aphasia is serious problem. It certainly blocks me from fulfilling the Pauline sufficient condition for salvation quoted at the beginning of this post. It seriously hinders my ability to “go out to all the world and tell the good news.” I do not proclaim the good news directly. This has interfered with my passing on the Catholic faith to my children.

See first post on Christian Re enchantment for how my inability to teach my children effectively arose my concern about need to accept and Christian Enchanted reality.

What might be the cause of my doxastic aphasia? Honestly, it is not fear of being contra-culture. I am not afraid to express Catholic beliefs in indirect discourse amongst fellow Catholics. But I avoid confessing with my mouth in direct discourse Catholic beliefs about Jesus even amongst fellow Catholics because in my heart I feel very uncomfortable saying simply “Jesus rose from the dead.” I find that I never have to use direct discourse to express what I believe as a Catholic. I pray. But praying is not making truth claims

My diagnosis is that I fear to live in the story of any enchanted reality; let alone one in accordance with a Christian narrative. The direct discourse statement “Jesus rose from the dead” makes me one of the participants of the story telling about another participant in the story. With the indirect discourse statement “I believe that Jesus rose from the dead” I stand outside the story as does a reader of a story and assert that I believe what occurs in the story.

I fear letting myself enter into any enchanted reality as if I were an active participant. This holds for the enchanted realities of video games as well as religious world views. I suppose that I feel insecure if I somehow let myself feel an active participant in any reality narrated by more than that of the daily world in principle explained by natural science. To enter an enchanted reality there can easily be conflicts between religion and science. Looking at the religious story from the outside by specifying it is what we believe, logical and conceptual techniques are available for removing any conflicts between religion and science. Avoidance of such conflicts are developed in subsequent posts using what has already been posted about the logic of fiction.

Ideally, one should enter into the enchanted reality, thereby becoming enchanted, to teach and to believe sincerely. Then when called upon to justify believing one should stand back and take the approach of talking about beliefs. Unfortunately, for me I can not do more than say that I believe using indirect discourse. I am limited by doxastic aphasia induced by the pervasive commitment of my culture to scientism.

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My book on sexual morality requires no narrative about enchanted realities other than the everyday one about our thoughts and feeling. But the traditional sexual morality I justify on purely secular grounds receives more motivation if placed in a Judeo-Christian framework.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





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