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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, my new renaissance arts crafts and philosophy ‘workout’ space here in Gisborne, New Zealand…

A Portrait of Godel: ‘We are in Plato’s Cave’

This is a painting I have been doing (nearly finished I think) of a wonderful photo of Godel in the library of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies. The photo took a full page in the Time-Life book Mathematics. The caption quoted Godel: ‘Either mathematics is too big for the human mind, or the human mind is more than a machine’. It adds: ‘He hopes to prove the latter.’ Reading this as a boy and looking at Godel, I was deeply impressed. There seemed to be a very deep mystery here – one that could be investigated by means of powerful logic and deep mental contemplation. Now, almost 50 years later, I can at least portray this deeply contemplative Platonist who believed that it is a mere prejudice of our age that we admit sensory impressions as evidence of a reality, but not logical apprehension of a priori (non-sensory) truths – even though these logical impressions have built mathematical systems we rely on absolutely in the material world, to build bridges skyscrapers and all manner of things – most recently an instrument sensitive enough to detect gravity waves from distant black holes. Mathematical and other a priori intuitions are at least as reliable as sense impressions. And, unlike the evidence of the senses, in the act of perceiving them we recognise that they ‘must be’ – i.e. they are necessary truths, not contingent. They could not NOT be. Ethical intuition is like this too. Another way of saying it is, these truths are transcendental – they transcend time and place and all the vicissitudes of the material world. If this is not evidence of the primacy of ‘mind’ over ‘matter’, of the ‘intelligible order’ over the contingent cosmos, I don’t know what would be. I’m with Godel, and Plato, who in the Republic likened the normal human’s condition to that of a prisoner sitting in a dark cave looking at shadows projected on the wall from various artefacts, thinking the shadows to be reality, when outside there is a sun and real objects, not just shadows on a cave wall. Every now and then a human struggles up and sees this beauty, but if he comes back down to tell his fellows he is not believed, and indeed may seem inferior to the prisoners, because his eyes are no longer used to the gloom. Yet outside the sun shines, and is the source of all the objects that cast the shadows which the prisoners take to be the only reality… We ARE in Plato’s cave! And, therefore, there IS a transcendental order.


A category list for the posts

Ok so I outlined that the posts will be divided by me as I do them into the four phases. But we need a meta category, where posts about the whole site and its structure and the health of its writer/s, can be ‘put’.

Also need an about the writer/s page, maybe

And a ‘list of philosophers’ – and one page just for Godel, and for Peirce.

So it’s getting there. In my ‘spare time’… The whole quest is a subsection of my ambitions when studying philosophy. I wanted to develop a theory of how to build a fractal, evolving theory database; i wanted to build a theory of all process per se; and I wanted to investigate the Transcendental Order, the nature and reality of God, theory of mind, ontology; ie to DO some metaphysics of a Platonist kind (is there really any other?!).