TAG vs. the Argument From Primacy
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23-01-2015, 09:33 PM (This post was last modified: 23-01-2015 10:04 PM by true scotsman.)
TAG vs. the Argument From Primacy
In the thread Why do Atheists Become Atheists, I had presented an argument for the non existence of God and Stevil took issue with it, saying that it seemed like atheist apologetics. I assumed he meant the argument of presuppositional opologetics or TAG , the transcendental argument for God. On the surface it does, so his objection was not unfounded on that level.

On further examination though, the two are not at all similar. It has come to my attention that there is a great deal of confusion about the issue of metaphysical primacy so I thought I would take the time to write this post.

It is completely understandable that many struggle with these concepts. It's not a mark against anyone. These issues are simply taken for granted by 99.99 percent of thinkers. There's a very good reason for that. We all learn these things implicitly at a very early age, long before we have the words to state the principles explicitly. We learn them early and then when we are older and start to philosophize we have forgotten all about them. Very few thinkers ever even consider the need to go back and state these earliest concepts explicitly, and that's very unfortunate. That has led to many errors in thinking which could have been avoided easily if these first principles were known consciously and explicitly.

Very briefly, for those who have never heard of this issue, I'll explain metaphysical primacy.

The issue of metaphysical primacy has to do specifically with the relationship between a consciousness (subject) and its objects (the things it perceives/ reality). Do the objects of consciousness conform to the subject or are they what they are and do what they do independent of the conscious activity which perceives them. The principle is a corollary of three axiomatic concepts and is itself an axiomatic concept. The three concepts are "existence", "consciousness" and "identity". The principle is that whatever exists does so independently of anyone's conscious activity. It means that consciousness is the faculty which perceives reality and not the faculty which creates reality. The identities of every object obtain apart from anyone's conscious wishes or desires. This is the conceptual root of the concept "objective". Being an axiomatic concept, the POE is not inferred from any antecedent premises but is directly observable. It is validated by sense perception and does not need to be proved. Indeed, what could the concepts "proof" or "truth" or "fact" possibly mean in a universe where the objects of consciousness did conform to the subject. The shortest way to say it is "wishing doesn't make it so". The epistemological corollary to the POE is that in order to gain knowledge of reality, one must look outward at reality. Therefore any arbitrary claims that have no connection to percepts cannot be considered knowledge or evidence.

The antithesis of the POE is the principle of the primacy of consciousness. This is the subjective orientation of the subject/ object relationship. This is the view of metaphysical primacy which is affirmed by Christianity and any belief that a conscious god created everything in the universe, maintains everything and can alter the state of affairs at will by conscious activity. On this view, the objects of consciousness conform to the subject of consciousness and do not obtain independently of conscious activity. Wishing does make it so.

With the above in mind, here is the argument from primacy in summary.

1. If the objects of consciousness do not conform to the subject of consciousness, then existence has metaphysical primacy in the relationship between consciousness and reality.

2 If existence has metaphysical primacy then the universe was not created by a God.

3. The objects or consciousness do not conform to the subject of consciousness.

Therefor, existence has primacy and the universe was not created by a God by an act of conscious will.

Now lets compare this with TAG. The transcendental argument for God comes in different variations but all of them propose that God is a necessary precondition for the existence of logic, knowledge and intelligibility. This is not really an argument but a bald assertion. They combine this bald assertion with the cheap debate tactic of the gish gallop. They claim that only the Christian world view can "account for" the laws of logic and intelligibility. They hit the non-believer with a bunch of questions about how they can account for these things without God. They are counting on the non-believer to have no answer for these questions and to concede just to stop the barrage. So this question begging argument relies on the ignorance of its opponents. At its base, it is an argument from ignorance. That's two fallacies so far.

Now the argument from primacy does not make any arbitrary claims. It relies on perceptually self evident facts of reality. It does not beg the question or rely on the ignorance of its opponents.

Implicit in TAG is that God is the starting point of knowledge. It treats God as an irreducible primary. But the concept "God" is not conceptually irreducible. It rests or antecedent concepts which are more fundamental than God so God is not a starting point. In fact the concept "God" fails on every criteria of a proper starting point of knowledge. It is not undeniably true. I can deny it without contradicting any facts of reality. It is not perceptually self evident, it is not fundamental and it is not axiomatic. This is a fatal flaw.

What is the real starting point? According to the Christian world view, God is a disembodied consciousness that created everything in existence distinct from itself, maintains everything in existence and can alter the state of affairs or the identity of existents with an act of conscious will. This is the primacy of consciousness metaphysics explicitly affirmed.

While God is not conceptually irreducible, the concept "consciousness" is and since the Christian world view claims that this consciousness created everything distinct from itself then we finally have the true starting point of the Christian world view. This logically reduces to a consciousness without any means, content or objects. This amounts to an assertion of consciousness without existence which not only commits the fallacy of pure self-reference but also the fallacy of the stolen concept. It is self contradictory. This argument is a real fallacyapalooza. The argument begins with literally nothing. It attempts to use logic to prove a contradiction.

Contrast this with the argument from primacy. The primacy of existence is not an irreducible primary either. It is a corollary of the three concepts I mentioned earlier in my description. These are "existence", "consciousness" and "identity". These are irreducible primaries and the most fundamental of these is "existence" which is a one word concept that subsumes everything that exists, has existed and will exist including anything we don't know about that exists. Absolutely everything is included under this concept as I inform it and as the argument from primacy informs it. If a God existed it would be included in the referents of "existence"

TAG has as its starting point non-existence while the the argument from primacy has as its starting point existence. Does "existence" meet the criteria of a proper starting point? It certainly does. It is undeniably true. One would have to exist in order to deny it. It is fundamental. Indeed there could be no concept more fundamental. It is conceptually irreducible. It rests on no antecedent concepts, for what could come before existence except something that doesn't exist. Is it directly observable? It is. Is it axiomatic? Yes it is. It would have to be true even to disagree with it. By disagreeing with it you would have to acknowledge that it existed and the objector would also have to first exist.

There is a lot more to say but I've already got a huge wall of text here. Hopefully this will explain the argument from primacy and show that there is no comparison between it and TAG. My schedule is extremely busy right now so if I don't respond back right away that is why. I will reply as I can but I only have about 20 minutes a day that I can devote to this.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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23-01-2015, 09:47 PM
RE: TAG vs. the Argument From Primacy
It's pretty solid stuff. When it comes to TAG though I've always found the most obvious truthful contrast to many of their types of arguments is saying you don't know. They seem to want to work in absolute claims about our claims but with responses of openly not knowing, you show they don't have any leg to stand upon in some claim that your idea is based on faultiness w/o their god.

I'm not exactly sure how one concludes this, "It is validated by sense perception and does not need to be proved." In the realm of how we can tell by perception I don't think one person is enough to make the claim of something on their own to need to not prove it.

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23-01-2015, 10:00 PM
RE: TAG vs. the Argument From Primacy
(23-01-2015 09:47 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  It's pretty solid stuff. When it comes to TAG though I've always found the most obvious truthful contrast to many of their types of arguments is saying you don't know. They seem to want to work in absolute claims about our claims but with responses of openly not knowing, you show they don't have any leg to stand upon in some claim that your idea is based on faultiness w/o their god.

I'm not exactly sure how one concludes this, "It is validated by sense perception and does not need to be proved." In the realm of how we can tell by perception I don't think one person is enough to make the claim of something on their own to need to not prove it.

ClydeLee,

An axiomatic concept is outside the realm of proof. It is implicit in the concept of "proof". That is the real test of whether a concept is axiomatic. Take the concept "existence". If nothing exists there is nothing to prove and no one to prove it to. That's what is meant by implicit in any proof.

Yep, the presupper is toast if he runs into someone who can "account for" logic without recourse to gods. As if logic needed to be 'accounted for". It is our only method to account for things beyond the perceptual level. It is presupposed in any "account for". If believers had a proper theory of concepts they wouldn't make these silly errors. Unfortunately their Bible offers no guidance on this subject. They must go outside of their worldview to an atheistic philosophy for such guidance. How sweet is that?!

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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24-01-2015, 07:26 PM
RE: TAG vs. the Argument From Primacy
We already know that the primacy of existence utterly destroys any notion of the primacy of consciousness. If anyone thinks any different, then a simple demonstration of telekinesis would suffice.

Any takers?

[Image: tumbleweed.gif]

I mean seriously though, existence is reality, and reality rules. We must exist within this reality and conform to it because trying to make reality conform to our consciousness is like beating a dead horse. It cannot be done.

We cannot make our concepts conform to reality unless the concepts are anchored to an existence already within that reality. If our concepts are not anchored to something in reality, it's like blowing smoke in the wind; they just cease to exist.

Concepts depend on reality in order to become realized. Reality does not depend on consciousness to exist, because existence is completely independent of our consciousness. It will exist whether we are aware of it or not.

Therefore, whenever anyone expresses a concept such as "God is possible," they do not seem to understand that all they are doing is expressing a concept. In order for that concept to be realized, they must anchor the word "possible" to an existence within reality.

In other words, they must demonstrate why and how it is possible, rather than merely asserting it. Asserting something is absolutely meaningless unless the "something" finds itself anchored to existence.

Although existence is dynamic due to its nature as it is constantly in an endless cycle of flux, it by no means makes existence undependable as being the primacy. Time changes all things, including that which is individually identified in reality, but the very essence of existence will always be static even as it transforms matter to energy, and vice versa.

Things are what they are, and they are never what we will them to be.

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24-01-2015, 07:39 PM
RE: TAG vs. the Argument From Primacy
I think therefore I am!

Tongue

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24-01-2015, 07:51 PM
RE: TAG vs. the Argument From Primacy
(24-01-2015 07:39 PM)DLJ Wrote:  I think therefore I am!

Tongue

So very wrong!

I am therefore I think!

Big Grin

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24-01-2015, 07:58 PM
RE: TAG vs. the Argument From Primacy
(24-01-2015 07:51 PM)Free Wrote:  
(24-01-2015 07:39 PM)DLJ Wrote:  I think therefore I am!

Tongue

So very wrong!

I am therefore I think!

Big Grin

Some of us do, perhaps.

Smile

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24-01-2015, 08:05 PM
RE: TAG vs. the Argument From Primacy
(24-01-2015 07:58 PM)DLJ Wrote:  
(24-01-2015 07:51 PM)Free Wrote:  So very wrong!

I am therefore I think!

Big Grin

Some of us do, perhaps.

Smile

You win.

Bowing

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25-01-2015, 03:10 AM
RE: TAG vs. the Argument From Primacy
(24-01-2015 08:05 PM)Free Wrote:  
(24-01-2015 07:58 PM)DLJ Wrote:  Some of us do, perhaps.

Smile

You win.

Bowing

Nah! You win.

But perhaps ol' René would have got better school grades had he thunked... "I am therefore I think therefore I am."

The first 'am' referencing existence and the second 'am' referencing person-ness.

Meanwhile... thinking out loud here... the god-hypothesis could still survive this argument if the concept of a non-conscious god could be articulated.

So... what would be the attributes of a non-conscious universe-creating god?

Consider

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25-01-2015, 03:57 AM (This post was last modified: 25-01-2015 04:20 AM by Stevil.)
RE: TAG vs. the Argument From Primacy
(23-01-2015 09:33 PM)true scotsman Wrote:  With the above in mind, here is the argument from primacy in summary.

1. If the objects of consciousness do not conform to the subject of consciousness, then existence has metaphysical primacy in the relationship between consciousness and reality.
What do you mean by consciousness?

Edit: It would be also interesting to me to know what your definition of existence or reality is.
And what you mean when you state "objects of consciousness do not conform to the subject of consciousness" because, of course, a conscious human can decide to walk from one place to another taking their shoes with them. Shoes being an object of consciousness in that this human recognises these shoes. The consciousness of the human has in this instance made the shoes conform by manipulating the human's body and as such causing the human's body to move the shoes.

(23-01-2015 09:33 PM)true scotsman Wrote:  2 If existence has metaphysical primacy then the universe was not created by a God.
This seems like a non sequitur to me.
It seems like you have assumed things about god. God was not mentioned in item 1. How do you come to a conclusion about god without first explaining how item 1 pertains to the definition of god?
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