Monday, August 08, 2005

Pet Peeves... defines "pet peeve" as "a particular or recurring source of irritation." I have several philosophical pet peeves, specific views argued by today's intellectuals that to me are so blatantly wrongheaded as to be profoundly enraging. Two examples are below:

  1. There is no morality without God. This is of course an old one. Since I used to listen to Dennis Prager a lot, I would hear this refrain all the time but just about everyone on the Conservative side of the intellectual spectrum voices this view. And anybody who has seriously paid attention to what Ayn Rand has written in her novel Atlas Shrugged and her book The Virtue of Selfishness knows that morality is possible without God, in fact God makes an objective morality impossible.
  2. Free will and/or consciousness are scientifically impossible. For an example see this article. Usually such assertions of determinism or epiphenomenalism come from the Liberal side of the intellectual spectrum, from people who fancy themselves as having a scientific point of view and cannot be bothered with such mystical notions as volition or consciousness. Frankly, the level of dishonesty necessary to proclaim that free will is an illusion simply boggles the mind. The problem with their viewpoint is the very obvious fact that if it applies to them then they have no choice as to what views to accept or reject. They are determined to believe in determinism just as I am allegedly determined to believe in free will. Instead of accepting free will as a self-evident axiom the determinists pretend that scientific discovery begins in a vacuum without any underlying assumptions. As a result, atoms and molecules are a certainty but the faculties of man's consciousness that were required to discover them are a problematic phenomenon requiring explanation.



Man, I hear your pain and I like some of what I hear, however...

Now, I love Ayn Rand too, and objectivism, but one thing that Rand and many objectivist fail to grasp is that the "enemy" is usually not consciously malicious. From Kant to the present day Logical Positivists, to the average non-intellectual (2nd hander), most of the people that are criticized for their vices are usually doing so for psychological reasons. In the case of free will, there is no dishonesty at all involved, but rather fear. For most of these people, the matter is settled emotionally, not consciously. In other words, these people really believe they are not free. And they believe it because they live in a world of fear, first and foremost. If you want to get your message out, and I think it is a good message, know that your audience and your enemy is not actively plotting against you. They usually just don't know any better. I do like your posts though. You seem to have done your homework, and you definately know your shit. Keep fighting the good fight. TY

Gideon said...


I thank you for your comments -- you are in fact the first person who ever commented on my blog.

You write that the "enemy" such as "Kant" and "Logical Positivist" are not "consciously malicious" but rather are motivated by "fear." I don't disagree that many of these people are driven by fear but I have to say there are some intellectual positions I just have a difficult time accepting that people can arrive at these positions without massive evasions. One example is certainly the denial of free will (or the pretense that it is an illusion). And in certain contexts for certain people I would include the issue of God and morality as well.