Daniel Dennett and Alister McGrath on Religion

March 29, 2006

Thanks to Matt Mullins over and Prosblogion you can check out an interesting audio exchange between Daniel Dennett and Alister McGrath.

Also you can find a PDF copy of McGrath’s arguments here.


Moreland’s Substance Dualism: Part 1

March 20, 2006

This is the first of a two part post on J. P. Moreland’s version of Substance Dualism. As such, you won’t see too much original thinking; my purpose is merely to introduce Moreland’s position. In Part 2 I will present one of Moreland’s supporting arguments: the argument from indexicals.

Among responses to the perennial (and often nebulous) debate surrounding the Mind/Body problem, J. P. Moreland has defended a position of Substance Dualism. This he defines as “the view that the soul- I, the self, mind- is an immaterial substance different from the body to which it is related.” So, “I am my soul and I have a body.” By way of distinction, property dualism claims “a person is a living physical body having mind, the mind consisting, however, of nothing but a more or less continuous series of conscious or unconscious states and events…which are the effects but never the causes of bodiliy activity.”

We may futher distinguish Moreland as a Thomistic substance dualist, as opposed to a Cartesian dualist (this at his behest). The dissimilarities are, in my opinion, subtle and impertenent (I’m sure one of you Thomist or Cartesian scholars will make me pay for that claim), so we won’t linger on them. Suffice it to say that Moreland understands Descartes to (1) have incorrectly reduced the soul to the mind, and (2) have mistakenly distinguished between two seperable substances- mind and body (whereas Moreland recognizes only one substance- the soul, with the body being an ensouled biological and physical structure that depends on the soul for its existence). Concerning (1), Moreland holds that the soul contains, among other things, the faculty of mind (which, incidentally, identifies him as a dichotomist). Hence, the soul is much more than the mind, and the two ought are not be conflated. As for (2), Cartesian dualists argue that the body is a physical, ordered aggregate fully describable in physical terms: the mind is related to the mind only via an external, causal relationship. Moreland, on the other hand, though agreeing the body is a physical structure, argues that it is not an aggregate: the body needs the soul. The body, it is claimed, is made human by the presence of the soul diffused equally throughout.

This, obviously, is meant to be an overview- it is merely a catalyst for discussion. If you are familiar with Moreland’s work, much of the above phraseology probably rang a bell: that’s because a good deal of it came straight from several of his works. For more on this, see Moreland’s Scaling the Secular City(esp. ch. 3), Love Your God with all Your Mind, Body and Soul: Human Nature & the Crisis in Ethics (with Scott Rae). This is a select list.

Eternity, Divine Knowledge, and Theories of Time

March 14, 2006

The guys over at Prosblogion have been really going at it in a couple of recent posts over the questions of atemporalism, A and B theories of time, libertarianism, Banezianism and Molinism, and a host of others. The first post by Kevin Timpe, Divine Eternity and Libertarian Free Will, addresses the question of…well, divine eternity and libertarian free will. Jeremey Pierce follows up with another post on Divine Atemporality and Tensed Facts. Check it out when you get a chance.

Plantinga’s Take on the Dover Decision on ID

March 11, 2006

Eminent Philosopher Alvin Plantinga’s thoughts are here.

Kripkology 101

March 7, 2006

I’ve been working through Saul Kripke’s Naming And Necessity and I recently stumbled across this gem on page 64. Commenting on the cluster concept notion of proper names he says:

Let me state then what the cluster concept theory of names is. It really is a nice theory. (The only defect I think it has is probably common to all philosophical theories. It’s wrong. You may suspect me of proposing another theory in its place; but I hope not, because I’m sure it’s wrong too if it is a theory.)



March 5, 2006

After watching several of Hollywood’s finest parade on the red carpet tonight at the Oscars, I thought I might meditate on the true nature of beauty. And who better to turn to than Plato.

When a man has been thus far tutored in the lore of love, passing from view to view of beautiful things, in the right and regular ascent, suddenly he will have revealed to him, as he draws to the close of his dealings in love, a wondrous vision, beautiful in its nature; all his previous labors, Socrates, were for the sake of this!

Symposium 210E

Unlike the beautiful things that we ordinarily experience that are beautiful at one time but not the other, or are beautiful in some respect but not the other, this Beauty is itself altogether unchanging, eternal, and unqualifiedly beautiful (211A).

Chuck Norris

March 2, 2006

For all you die-hard Chuck Norris fans out there I found a link to this over at Tu Quoque. I couldn’t stop laughing.