Blood in the Water?
In this age of the Internet, the saving of the world may come down to just pushing the right buttons. A case in point is my catching the scent of blood in the water. I had been using Chalmers and Google to follow the debate on naturalism, but I wasn't entering the right search terms in Google until the day before yesterday. This is when I entered 'naturalism & physicalism'. I began to notice a new tone in the recent postings. I also noticed the absence of response.
I had been relying too much on David Chalmers' listing of online papers on consciousness, and, as I have said before, it was appearing that the debate was getting nowhere. His so-called 'hard problem' was turning out to be a red herring, or perhaps it is just too hard. The real problem was the concomitant dismissal of the 'easy problem', his characterization of which had been too readily accepted by his partisan followers. I too was not paying sufficient attention to the real debate over naturalism.
The real problem with focusing too much on consciousness, from the present perspective, is that it deals only with qualities or 'qualia', and these qualia do not lend themselves to analysis, and thus they do not foment debate as readily as does the linguistic side of our mental capacities.
I am only now beginning to re-scan the first 200 items in the Google search given above. The general tenor of the arguments is that 'folk psychology' is turning out to be a tougher nut to crack than the naturalists had been assuming. The coherence of natural language depends crucially on the presuppositions of folk psychology. To undermine those presuppositions is to undermine the logical foundations of language. The naturalists have been caught trying to saw off the limb upon which they, and we are sitting. The more they try to argue these points, the deeper they dig themselves into this logical hole.
As Quentin Smith has indirectly pointed out, the naturalists are realizing that they are playing a losing hand in this poker game, and so they try to leave the table. They endeavor to return to their more traditional, piecemeal analyses. What seems to be new in just the last few years is that their theistic colleagues, about whom Quentin warns, are picking up the scent of a possible major intellectual victory. For the first time in literally centuries, the intellectual shoe is on the theistic foot.
Is this not a tempest in a teapot? Yes, it is, so far. But it does threaten to spill out into the public arena. Right now it is as if the theistic philosophers, those newly hired, junior faculty members, are not quite able to believe the enormity of the victory that seems to be about to fall into their laps.
This situation goes far beyond the issue of the intellectual liberalism and tolerance of the post-modern ethos. It is now looking as though that liberal stance may have just been a deliberate ploy on the part of the rear guard of the secular intellectual establishment in anticipation of their impending downfall. The crude scientism that still undergirds the superficial posturing of the postmodern' liberals' has never had an ounce of tolerance in its blood.
I am predicting that academic heads will roll. There will be a bloody intellectual battle. The reverberations of which will shake the global psyche in a manner that will recall of prophecies of old. Obviously, the proof can only be in the pudding.
[Later in the day:]
Not until the theists return to the philosophical idealism of the transcendentalists will there be any motive to question the scientific cosmology in toto. Merely sliding back into traditional western dualism will not signal a dramatic shift.
The conservative Christians are far from considering immaterialism, but if their Intelligent Design gambit continues to falter, then a few of them might consider something more radical and comprehensive than metaphysical dualism. That would be a start. Perhaps the sterling credentials of C. S. Lewis will be instrumental in persuading some to take another look at idealism.
I had some success with the 'naturalism & physicalism' search combination, and now I need to find the magical combination that will pick out those on the cutting edge of immaterialism. That would be a major breakthrough for me, and it would seem to be a relatively straightforward task, but the goal eludes me, nonetheless.
On the Web:
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