Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.

1/26/2005

Let's get metaphysical

Via The Raving Atheist, Steve Esser has an interesting post on the theistic consequences of a panexperientialist metaphysic. A lot of good stuff there, but I thought this point was particularly important:
most atheists ... subscribe to a false worldview in thinking the universe is a machine made of inert matter moving without purpose in space and time.

Materialism is a theory whose sell-by date is long past. And it is very important to understand that a rejection of materialism in no way entails an acceptance of theism or any religious tradition. One of the most prominent philosophers today, David Chalmers (who also has a significant presence on the web) is a basically atheistic non-materialist.

If there is any doubt that atheism and anti-materialism are perfectly compatible, note that perhaps the best argument against materialism comes from Nietzsche:

"Science" as a prejudice.—It follows from the laws of the order of rank that scholars, insofar as they belong to the spiritual middle class, can never catch sight of the really great problems and question marks; moreover, their courage and their eyes simply do not reach that far …

It is no different with the faith with which so many materialist natural scientists rest content nowadays, the faith in a world that is supposed to have its equivalent and its measure in human thought and human valuations—a "world of truth" that can be mastered completely and forever with the aid of our square little reason. What? Do we really want to permit existence to be degraded for us like this—reduced to a mere exercise for a calculator and an indoor diversion for mathematicians? Above all, one should not wish to divest existence of its rich ambiguity; that is a dictate of good taste, gentlemen, the taste of reverence for everything that lies beyond your horizon. That the only justifiable interpretation of the world should be one in which you are justified because one can continue to work and do research scientifically in your sense (you really mean, mechanistically?)—an interpretation that permits counting, calculating, weighing, seeing, and touching, and nothing more—that is a crudity and naiveté, assuming that it is not a mental illness, an idiocy.

Would it not be rather probably that, conversely, precisely the most superficial and external aspect of existence—what is most apparent, its skin and sensualization—would be grasped first—and might even be the only thing that allowed itself to be grasped? A "scientific" interpretation of the world, as you understand it, might therefore still be one of the most stupid of all possible interpretations of the world, meaning that it would be one of the poorest in meaning. This thought is intended for the ears and consciences of our mechanists who nowadays like to pass as philosophers and insist that mechanics is the doctrine of the first and last laws on which all existence must be based as on a ground floor. But an essentially mechanical world would be an essentially meaningless world. Assuming that one estimated the value of a piece of music according to how much of it could be counted, calculated, and expressed in formulas: how absurd would such a "scientific" estimation of music be! What would one have comprehended, understood, grasped of it? Nothing, really nothing of what is "music" in it!

from The Gay Science (373)


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