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Author Topic: Faith-based roots of reasoning  (Read 6197 times)

Malcolm McKay

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Faith-based roots of reasoning
« on: June 22, 2012, 06:09:18 PM »

Hmmm.... it all comes back to the rather circular assertion that if one has faith in one's belief then one must believe in one's faith.

If you have a perfect proof that reason is reliable (complete and consistent), that our senses can give us empirical information, and that we can reason reliably from sense information, then please provide the publication in which you have made this argument. 

Sorry Marty but you didn't really address what I posted which was "it all comes back to the rather circular assertion that if one has faith in one's belief then one must believe in one's faith."

But it is acceptable to say you can't - there are no points to be won or lost.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Faith-based roots of reasoning
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2012, 07:22:09 PM »

Sorry Marty but you didn't really address what I posted which was "it all comes back to the rather circular assertion that if one has faith in one's belief then one must believe in one's faith."

You seem to have conceded that you do not have the necessary proof to establish a standpoint that is not circular in exactly the same way that mine is.

Lacking that proof, you and I operate (as all humans do) on faith in our powers of knowing things through our senses.  We have no choice but to believe that we can make contact with reality and can use reason to draw inferences from what we observe.

Of course, my offer to revise my view of your faith-based reasoning stands: show me your proof that proceeds from self-evident propositions, using nothing but pure logic, that provides you with a non-faith based foundation for trusting the results of scientific investigations.  Of course, such a proof will not be an archaeological artifact.  It is not to be found by digging and dating.  It will necessarily be metaphysical proof, because "logic" and "reason" and "knowledge" are not artifacts found in certain strata in the ground, cannot be dated by association with those layers or by other dating techniques, and are not empirical objects.

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But it is acceptable to say you can't - there are no points to be won or lost.

I addressed the problem of the apparently vicious circle we find ourselves in when we try to "prove everything" in my first book, Personal Catholicism, on pages 8, 61, 79, 88, 94, 120-123, and 178 (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2000).  Since I took this view long before having the pleasure of making your acquaintance, I think you might agree that I'm not making this up on the spot.  I accepted the idea that we must have faith in reason before we can reason rightly.  The logical positivists tried--and failed--to establish a faith-free foundation for proof. 

I am, of course, following Michael Polanyi's lead on this question.  He was an MD, a PhD in physical chemistry, and self-taught in economics, sociology, philosophy, theology, and aesthetics.  Based on his successful work in adsorption, X-ray crystallography, deformation of crystals, and reaction kinetics, he came to the conclusion that philosophies of science based on positivism were false and destructive.  He subtitled his major work on epistemology, Personal Knowledge, "Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy."

He treats the problem often in the book.  Here is just one example: "The axiomatized system is therefore circular: our anterior acceptance of mathematics lends authority to its axioms, from which we then deduce in turn all mathematical demonstrations" (289).

Hilbert suggested in 1900 that mathematicians place mathematics on a strict foundation of proof.  Russell and Whitehead thought that they had met that challenge in Principia MathematicaKurt Gödel showed that they failed to reach their goal in his incompleteness theorems.

If you have solved the problem, then you have a non-faith-based standpoint.

If you haven't solved the problem, then you, like me, operate by faith first and reason afterward.

LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Faith-based roots of reasoning
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2012, 10:03:01 PM »

I must get a copy of your book, Marty - fascinating.

It's all about epistemology.  I love the topic, but my Mom said the book is nothing but a sedative to her.  Same with the pastor and parishioners at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish.   :(

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Other than making the thinnest of arguments stick in a very limited way, the academic will fail in condemnation of 'faith' - and I will rest that observation on Marty's own demonstration of the argument above, which I find sound from experience and analysis of my own as I reflect on life itself.

The skeptics believe in doubt as the pathway to truth.  It's the strangest phenomenon.  They say one thing and do another.  To say "doubt everything" is to express the belief that doubt is worthwhile.  They doubt everything except doubting. 
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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