Sam26 added a topic in ExploreA Possible Solution to the Problem of EvilThis solution requires thinking outside the box, but the following solution may solve the problem of evil. Moreover, just as the arguments for and against the problem of evil assume that there is something beyond the grave, so too, will we make this assumption as part of the argument.
It is not important whether I believe the argument or not, because all we want to look at, is whether the argument itself solves the problem.
Most of you probably know what the problem of evil is; however, let me state it for purposes of clarification.
The problem of evil arises because God is believed to be morally perfect. Moreover, God’s moral perfection along with two other attributes of God appears to be incompatible with evil. Thus we have three attributes of God that seem to be in conflict - his goodness, his omniscience (all-knowing), and his omnipotence (all-powerful). It would follow that if God is good, then God would be opposed to evil. Second, if God is omniscient, then God knows of each and every instance of evil. Third, if God is omnipotent, then God is able to eliminate each and every instance of evil. Thus the question arises – why evil, or at the very least, why so much gratuitous evil?
The solution to the problem of evil requires an unusual look at reality, and this reality will presuppose different levels of consciousness. There is some evidence for this, but that may be discussed later, or in a different thread.
The different levels of consciousness or awareness are the following: Dream states, waking states, and a higher awareness that involves the mind leaving the body (out of body awareness or experience). There may be other levels of consciousness, but these are the only ones needed for the purpose of this argument.
The question that naturally follows from this, is how would changing the state of reality solve the problem of evil? This is explained by giving an example that we all have experienced. For instance, in a dream state we have experiences, and while we are dreaming they seem real. In fact, if we would remain in a dream state it would be reality for us, but we don’t remain in this state; we awaken from this state, passing from a lower level of awareness to a higher level of awareness. When we awake from a dream, the experiences we had while in this state don’t have the impact or level of reality that we thought they did while we were dreaming. So the experiences of pain, fear, death, etc, while in the dream do not have the same sense of reality that our awakened state has, which is why we have a name for this state, viz., dreaming.
Why is it that when we awaken from a dream state, our experiences while in the dream aren’t as real or as momentous as we thought? Isn’t it because when we move from a lower state of awareness to a higher state of awareness we have knowledge that we didn’t have before? It is the knowledge of what we were experiencing that dissipates the impact of the experiences. We have the memories of what happened, but the experiences themselves aren’t as real as we thought. Thus the pain, fear, and other experiences while in the dream aren’t as real. Did I really experience the car crash that happened while I was dreaming? Yes and no. What is meant by the answer “Yes and no” is this: the experience was real, i.e., I was really experiencing a car crash in the dream, but the experiences at that level lack the reality that waking states have; and it is this sense of reality that significantly lessons the impact of those experiences.
Now suppose that when we die we merely move from this state of reality to an even higher state of reality, wouldn’t our experiences in this state seem like the dream state? It’s quite possible, and thus the experiences that we call evil wouldn’t have the impact that we think it does. Am I saying there is no evil? No. Because in a sense reality is dependent on the state we are in. Our language is referring to our experiences in that state, so what we describe in that state, as evil, is reality for us. However, reality can change given our level of awareness, or level of consciousness.
So if dying really does move us from this level of consciousness to another level of consciousness, then what we have experienced here in terms of evil will not have the harmful effects that we think it does. In fact, the harm may be so diminished, that it will have had no more of an effect than waking from a dream state.
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Sam26 added a topic in ExploreHinge Propositions and FoundationalismI will try to set out a theory which enunciates a certain set of propositions as the foundation of our epistemic system. I am extrapolating from Wittgenstein's notes, in which there is a certain kind of proposition, a basic belief if you will, that form the substructure of our epistemic system. They provide a kind of backdrop that allows us to form more sophisticated language constructs, in particular, epistemological language-games.
I will begin by talking a little about the central theme of On Certainty, then I will set out what I believe to be foundational to our epistemic system, viz., hinge propositions or bedrock propositions.
As most of you know Moore is the catalyst for Wittgenstein's On Certainty. It is Moore, as he argues with the skeptics, who identifies a certain kind of proposition, i.e., a proposition that is beyond doubt. Propositions that Moore claims to know, such as, “Here is one hand” and “There exists at present a living human body, which is my body." Moore's conclusions are supposed to negate the arguments of the skeptic.
Moore’s argument would probably look something like the following:
1) Moore has knowledge that he has two hands.
2) Moore makes the inference from the fact that he has two hands, to the conclusion that there exists an external world.
3) Hence, Moore knows that an external world exists.
Most of On Certainty is spent analyzing the use of the words 'know' and 'doubt,' and the correct use of these words; or if you prefer, the logic of use in reference to these two words. Wittgenstein's claim is that Moore, as well as the skeptic, are using the words 'know' and 'doubt' incorrectly. In fact, Wittgenstein starts out On Certainty by saying, "If you do know that here is one hand, we'll grant you all the rest (OC, 1). So Wittgenstein is saying that if Moore is correct, then his argument follows.
Wittgenstein’s response to Moore’s propositions is not entirely unsympathetic, although he argues that Moore’s propositions do not accomplish what Moore thinks they do, namely, to provide a proof of the external world; which in turn is supposed to undermine the doubts of the skeptic.
“Now, can one enumerate what one knows (like Moore)? Straight off like that, I believe not.—For otherwise the expression “I know” gets misused (OC, 6).”
The disputes with Moore’s propositions are not only problematic; they are also very subtle disputes, which means that they are difficult to flush out. One of the problems is that we sometimes fail to see the connection between the use of the word “know,” and the use of the word “doubt,” and the logic behind that use. It is the kind of logical link that is also seen between rule-following and making a mistake - one cannot happen without the other. To know what it means to make a mistake in following a rule, one must also know what it means to follow the rule correctly. Otherwise any procedure that is said to follow a rule, would be the same as following a rule. Thus there would be no difference in thinking one is following a rule, and actually following the rule (in essence it would be self-sealing). So the link between rule-following and making a mistake in following a rule is one of necessity. This can be clearly seen in mathematics where rule-following is a crucial part of understanding how to solve problems. Rule-following tells us something important about what it means to have knowledge of mathematics; and making mistakes in mathematics also tells us something important about one's knowledge of mathematics. The two go hand-in-hand.
Wittgenstein is challenging the first premise in the above argument; more specifically, he is challenging Moore’s claim that he has knowledge of his two hands. Having knowledge of something presupposes that there are good reasons to believe it (at least in terms of reasoning), but exactly what is it that Moore has knowledge of? He claims to have knowledge of the existence of his hands, but what would count as evidence for such a claim? Do I know that I have hands because I check to see if they are there every morning? Do I make a study of my hands, and thereby conclude that I do indeed have hands? I have knowledge of chemistry, physics, history, epistemology, and other subjects, and there are ways to confirm my knowledge. However, in our everyday lives do we need to confirm that we have hands? And do we normally doubt such things?
“When Moore says he knows such and such, he is really enumerating a lot of empirical propositions which we affirm without special testing; propositions, that is, which have a peculiar role in the system of our empirical propositions.
“Even if the most trustworthy of men assures me that he knows things are thus and so, this by itself cannot satisfy me that he does know. Only that he believes he knows. That is why Moore’s assurance that he knows…does not interest us. The propositions, however, which Moore retails as examples of such known truths are indeed interesting. Not because anyone knows their truth, or believes he knows them, but because they all have a similar role in the system of our empirical judgments.
“We don’t, for example, arrive at any of them as a result of investigation (OC, 136 -138.)”
This is where we begin to see the special nature of these hinge propositions (which really are not propositions in the ordinary sense). It may be more preferable to refer to these hinge propositions as basic beliefs or bedrock beliefs.
There is an important point to make about these propositions, and it is made in the following statement by Wittgenstein: “Now, can one enumerate what one knows (like Moore)? Straight off like that, I believe not.—For otherwise the expression “I know” gets misused. And through this misuse a queer and extremely important mental state seems to be revealed (OC, 6).”
This seems puzzling to say the least. After all what is this mental state that Wittgenstein is referring to, and what relevance does it have in reference to Moore's propositions? And why does Wittgenstein say that this mental state is extremely important?
It is as though Moore’s propositions come down to a state of knowing – a feeling of certainty, which is subjective; and this needs to be juxtaposed to the kind of certainty that is a result of objective verification. It seems that Moore is expressing a subjective feeling of certainty. It is the kind of certainty that we all have about such propositions, which is why we seem to want to agree with Moore, i.e., I know them too.
This will be the first post. More will come later. Any questions and responses are welcome.
Here is a link to my Wittgenstein blog http://wittgenstein-ludwig.blogspot.com/2010/07/tractatus.html
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