Peirce’s ‘Neglected Argument for the Reality of God’

This is his main statement of it:

‘…any normal man who considers the three Universes in the light of the hypothesis of God’s Reality, and pursues that line of reflection in scientific singleness of heart, will come to be stirred to the depths of his nature by the beauty of the idea and by its august practicality, even to the point of earnestly loving and adoring his strictly hypothetical God, and to that of desiring above all things to shape the whole conduct of life and all the springs of action into conformity with that hypothesis. Now to be deliberately and thoroughly prepared to shape one’s conduct into conformity with a proposition is neither more nor less than the state of mind called Believing that proposition, however long the conscious classification of it under that head be postponed.’  

This form kind of cuts the legs from under any scepticism about existence in the pure or rigorous sense – we cannot but love this ‘hypothetical God’ when we see this God as being the sum of all these goods, these ideals…
(Notes: Peirce divided the ‘phaneron’ or Everything that we perceive or conceive, into three: the Possiverse, the continuum of all possibilities; the Activerse, the actual universe or theatre of reactions; and the Necessiverse, the infinite realms of changeless reality, of necessary truths. This latter is surely the part of reality most persuasive in our musings on the existence or reality of God, as it is the one we cannot conceive of NOT being real or being different in some way… truth is truth…and without it we could not even calculate to eg build a bridge… and ethical truth is essential to any system of justice; hence Peirce’s ‘august practicality’)
In his preamble to this formulation of the Argument, Peirce comments:
‘If God Really be, and be benign, then, in view of the generally conceded truth that religion, were it but proved, would be a good outweighing all others, we should naturally expect that there would be some Argument for His Reality that should be obvious to all minds, high and low alike, that should earnestly strive to find the truth of the matter; and further, that this Argument should present its conclusion, not as a proposition of metaphysical theology, but in a form directly applicable to the conduct of life, and full of nutrition for man’s highest growth. What I shall refer to as the N.A.—the Neglected Argument—seems to me best to fulfil this condition, and I should not wonder if the majority of those whose own reflections have harvested belief in God must bless the radiance of the N.A. for that wealth. Its persuasiveness is no less than extraordinary; while it is not unknown to anybody. Nevertheless, of all those theologians (within my little range of reading) who, with commendable assiduity, scrape together all the sound reasons they can find or concoct to prove the first proposition of theology, few mention this one, and they most briefly. They probably share those current notions of logic which recognise no other Arguments than Argumentations.’
Yes! It is so conducive to – flows on seamlessly into – a whole course of inquiry into practical life philosophy… that’s why I am so excited by it for www.Lifegym.nz, my new renaissance arts crafts and philosophy ‘workout’ space here in Gisborne, New Zealand…
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