Kelgray and Beyond

int game_engine(void) {

A Continuation From Miniskirts

So now I’m stuck in this religious philosophy frame of mind so I figured I’d take my last post a bit further and try to sort some more things out.  In my last post I came down to the idea that in order for the Ontological argument for God’s existence to be true, one must be able to come up with a proof that shows that there is no set of properties that would negate existence and that would be better than existence.

 

So the next question to ask is that if something does not exist, then does it have to fall under the rules of logic?  For instance.  We know that it is not possible for something that exists to be both red and not-red at the same time. (that is to say that it is red and it is not the case that it is red, not simply that it is something other than red for it is possible for something to be red and something other than red at the same time, but it’s not possible for it to be red if it has no red in it).  But is it possible for something that doesn’t exist to be both red and not red?  Since we’re living within the rules of logic we’d have to say that no it can’t as contradictions are not logically possible.  Which means that my original question now becomes somewhat moot for if omniscience and free-will are inconsistent in existence, then surely they would be inconsistent in non-existence as well.

 

So now that we have a better definition of what exactly we’re talking about, we need to try to find some argument that will say that existence itself is involved in a contradiction with other properties that would be greater than it.  We need to find a set of properties that are consistent without existence but are not consistent if they include existence.  So how do we do that?  It would seem simple.  All we need to find is an example.  But we need to find some property that would be different in existence than it is in non-existence.  How about the ability to act?  Certainly that’s a pretty important property, and is a property that would be different in existence than in non-existence for if something exists and has the ability to act then it can affect other things, but if it does not exist it cannot affect anything.  This brings up the question of whether or not something can have the ability to act without affecting anything.  I’m going to say that it can because I can imagine a person kicking a ball.  The person in my imagination had the ability to kick a ball, which is an action, even though neither the person nor the ball actually exist.  A person kicking a ball is most certainly a logical possibility, so it seems that it is logically possible for something that does not exist to have the ability to act.

 

Now what we have to do is find a contradiction involving the ability to act and some other properties that, combined with the ability to act, would negate existence (without negating the ability to act).  The most obvious argument here is that if God is omnipotent, benevolent, and able to act, then why do bad things happen to good people?  The religious argument here is that those injustices are made up in the afterlife and that God does not act either in order to preserve free will or in order to preserve the necessity of faith (no one would need to take a leap of faith in order to believe in God if it was apparent that God existed).  I prefer the argument that there must be pain in the world in order for there to be pleasure and so by allowing pain to happen God is doing good by allowing there to be pleasure.  Any of these arguments work and so we move on.

 

What about an argument against just omnipotence? Like the immovable object argument.  Could God create an object that he, himself, could not move?  This argument does require both omnipotence and the ability to act, so maybe it can negate existence.  My answer to this argument deals with the definition of  omnipotence.  Defining omnipotence as being able to do anything (including things outside the laws of logic) breaks the rules that we set up in the first place, so we need to find a better definition.  My definition for omnipotence would be the ability to do anything that is logically possible to do.  Now I can imagine an immovable object, so I’m gonna say that creating an immovable object is possible.  However, an immovable object is by its very definition immovable, so it would not be possible to move it.  So God could maintain his omnipotence while not being able to move an immovable object.  So the answer is yes, God can microwave a burrito so hot that even he would not be able to eat it.

 

It’s starting to seem difficult to find an example that would prove this theory wrong, so maybe it’s right.  Maybe there is no set of properties that would be consistent without existence, but not consistent with existence.  But my simple mind not finding this set is a far cry from saying that the set does not exist.  Thus far my miniskirt argument seems to have weakened slightly.  But as of yet it still stands.

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February 17, 2007 - Posted by | God, Logic, Metaphysics, Miniskirts, Philosophy

1 Comment »

  1. My prof, Mark Gardiner sent me this as a reply to the first miniskirt post:

    Hi Taylor,

    This is a nice bit of thinking. The problem, as I see it, is whether “greatest conceivable being” can be anything more than a purely formal concept – i.e. whether it can have any genuine or
    non-empty content. Your argument suggests that (i) it must be explicated in terms of a set of necessary and sufficient conditions (each of which must itself be non-formal), and (ii) those
    conditions must be mutually consistent.  One could argue, as you hint, either that there are no such set of conditions (or no unique set of such conditions) or that there is no guarantee that
    they will be mutually consistent. Whether or not “existence” must be one of those conditions is, I think, moot at this point, but it is interesting as Anselm certainly seems to treat it as a
    substantial robust metaphysical concept whereas Kant’s famous objection to the Ontological Argument (existence is not a predicate) seems to be tantamount to denying that “existence” has
    any non-formal meaning.

    How does this connect to time travel?

    Your “mini skirt” analogy is very clever. However, after lots of beer I would probably argue that you have confused the two distinct aspects of the concept – “mini” and “skirt”. It is the essence of
    “mini” to be as small as possible (though again I would argue that “infintesimally small” is an oxymoron, as “small” is a spatial concept), whereas it is th essence of “skirt” to cover certain
    body parts. So, what we have here is that there no mutually consistent way of explicating the complex concept “mini skirt” in terms a set of necessary and sufficient conditions.

    2 further points.

    One might simply reject the hope of explicating concepts in terms of well defined sets of necessary and sufficient conditions; i.e. reject “essences” all together. This was a very popular move in
    the middle of the 20th century – see Wittgenstein’s “family resemblance” argument in Philosophical Investigations.

    Alternatively, one must hold that “perfection” is a simple, unanalyzble concept that cannot be reduced to anything more basic. This would be reminscient of G.E. Moore’s famous argument (first
    appearing in Principia Ethica) that “good”, like “yellow”, is logically simple and cannot be further reduced.

    Comment by Taylor | February 21, 2007


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