28 August, 2010

Do you exist for certain?

It's an interesting question. In order to know anything for certain, you must first be sure of your own existence - otherwise what you claim to know could simply be a by-product of the delusion that you exist (i.e. none of it could be true).

The classic argument for this, cogito ergo sum, was provided by Descartes:

I think (premise), therefore I am (conclusion).


A criticism of this is that Descartes is begging the question in his premise. That is, by stating 'I think' you are already assuming that you exist, and so you are assuming the conclusion from the outset. This seems like a valid criticism, but I would suggest that it is simply impossible to prove your own existence without begging the question.

I am exploring this possibility in my discussions on the Premier website forums. Sye TenB (a presuppositionalist - see here for background) claims that he is certain that God exists, and that he is also certain of x, y and z. My challenge to him is to provide his own proof that he exists for certain. To clarify, I'm not asking him to prove it to me, but just to provide the proof that he claims he has. He has so far refused to do so; instead he continues to try and shift the discussion back onto my 'worldview'. The reason that he does this is blatantly obvious - he cannot prove that he exists for certain without begging the question.

As I see it (and please correct me if there are more), the two possible proofs he has are:

1) Descartes' proof, which he doesn't accept because it begs the question

2) God has revealed to him that he exists in such a way that he can be certain. Ignoring the other issues with this statement, if he uses this proof, he is also begging the question as shown here...

P1: God can reveal things for certain
P2: God has revealed to me that I exist for certain
C: I exist for certain

The conclusion is being assumed by the use of the word me in P2.

Even though he refuses to critically examine his own worldview, if he is intellectually honest (which he claims to be), Sye is forced to concede that he cannot prove that he exists for certain. This negates any other claims to certainty as anything he thinks could simply be a part of the delusion that he exists.

Or...

Sye could accept that we all know we exist for certain, and then continue with his argument. But he can't do this because this would mean that certainty is possible without God - God is not needed for cogito ergo sum to hold.

So, do you exist for certain Sye? If so, please provide the proof.

[Note: Dawson Bethrick has posted a rebuttal of Sye's website here]

--------------------------------------------------------

Edit (30/08/10):

As can be seen in the comment section, Sye has declined my request to answer the question, but Dan Marvin has offered the following proof that he is certain he exists:

The purple weighs green therefore bathtub penguin the much

It is a very strange proof so I asked him several times if he was sure, and I also gave him the decision as to whether his proof had to conform to logic. I'll let the readers decide if they are convinced. But by Dan's OWN STANDARDS, here is my irrefutable counter-proof that both he and God don't exist:

P1: Mice when buckets you are a joke
P2: Week the go suck a lemon sunshine
C: Dan and God don't exist


Case closed.

-------------------------------------------------------

Edit (27/10/10):

I am going to keep a running list of each time Sye has evaded answering my simple request: "Do you exist for certain Sye? If so, please provide the proof." - (not necessarily in chronological order)

One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty

And counting...

62 comments:

Sye TenB said...

Are you saying that it is impossible for God to reveal to me, such that I can be certain that I exist? If so, please tell us how you know for certain that this is impossible.

Cheers.

rhiggs said...

As I said, if this is your proof, it is begging the question.

Cheers.

rhiggs said...

To clarify, whether or not begging the question is allowable (which is what Sye typically asks next), if Sye does it in his proof, then so can I, or anyone else.

So, if Sye is certain he exists, then I can also be certain that I exist. Hence, certainty is possible without God.

Dan +†+ said...

Rhiggs,

>>...whether or not begging the question is allowable...

How do you account for an absolute standard of logic, where logical fallacies are not allowed, within your worldview?

:7)

Dan +†+ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhiggs said...

Why Dan? Are you saying there is a logical fallacy in Sye's proof that he exists?

Ryk said...

@Sye TenB:

For an omnipotent being which I presume you believe God is, to reveal something to a non omnipotent being such as I presume, yourself, is a logical contradiction. It is comparable to him creating a rock he can not lift or posing a question he can not answer. As you have in a previous discussion aknowledged that logical contradictions are a weakness and not subsumed in the definition of omnipotence and therefore not properties of God, your premise fails.

To assume thie validity of such revelation you would have to prove that an omnipotent being has the capacity to either A, be logically inconsistent, or B provide revelations in a way which are not logically inconsistent. Since B by definition permits the possibility of deception it can not validate revelation.

Further arguments from revelation such as "God can not decieve because it is against his nature", fail because you have not yet substantiated the value of revelation and therefore can not make claims of truth based on revelation.

Your logic is tragically flawed at the outset of your argument, hence it fails at every successive level. That is why the transcendental argument can never proceed past circularity.

Dan +†+ said...

Rhiggs,

>>Why Dan? Are you saying there is a logical fallacy in Sye's proof that he exists?

No, do you?

rhiggs said...

Dan,

OK great. So by your standards, if there is no logical fallacy in Sye's proof, then there is also no logical fallacy in cogito ergo sum. Hence, I am certain I exist.

I guess certainty is possible without God.

Cheers.

Dan +†+ said...

Rhiggs,

Wild assumptions much?

You are committing the fallacy of “hasty generalization.”

You assumed, wrongly again, that Sye's argument is equal to cogito ergo sum, which it is not.

cogito ergo sum might be your argument though unless you can demonstrate that you do not use your reasoning to test your reasoning which is viciously circular.

rhiggs said...

Dan,

Just repeating Sye's catchphrases doesn't make them any more sensible. And we have already established that you simply parrot him without actually understanding what he is even saying, now haven't we?

:-D

Sye is afraid to give me his proof because he knows he will be committing the same fallacy as he accuses of cogito ergo sum. That is, he assumes his own existence in the proof.

If I am wrong about this, then please provide what you consider Sye's proof to be. Or simply provide the proof that YOU exist? I not asking you to prove it to me, just provide the proof that you think you and Sye might agree upon...

Can't wait!

Dan +†+ said...

Rhiggs,

>>And we have already established that you simply parrot him without actually understanding what he is even saying, now haven't we?

So you site me for not understanding, by parroting, and for being honest as to my understanding of the subject?

Why are you attempting to load the dice in your favor? Quite dishonest on your part.

So, your view of proper morality, by example, is to be originally dishonest?

Bwawk, as Sye said "I will not engage Rhiggs on the topic of morality, unless he first justifies his ability to reason about morality - which of course he will be unable to do." Bwawk

:-O

Ryk said...

Wow Rhiggs Sye and this Dan fellow certainly read from the same playbook.

Step one. Make ridiculous claims.

Step two. When called upon to back up said claims refuse to debate unless their opponent substantiates their own argument for them.

Step three. Repeat as often as necessary for the opponent to get frustrated, realize you are an idiot or both.

Kind of sad really, I hope sye answers me he asked how someone could know for certain his revelation was impossible and I gave incontrovertable proof that it is indeed impossible.

I want to see him weasel out of it. Especially since I have a good idea how he will respond if he is not to cowaardly to try.

rhiggs said...

Dan,

And I can honestly say I have no idea WTF you are talking about.

Now, stop trying to dodge the point of the post. Read the title again: "Do you exist for certain?"

Care to have a go at answering it and providing your proof?

Dan +†+ said...

Ryk,

Step Three is misrepresented by you.

Here is a more accurate Step Three:

Step Three: Repeat as often as necessary until question is actually addressed.

Then we can move on.

Besides, In order to prove something to you, I will need to know what qualifies as proof according to your position. Please answer the following questions:

1. Does the thing proven have to be absolutely true?
2. Does the thing proven have to be known for certain to be absolutely true?
3. Does the thing proven have to follow absolute laws of logic?

If you haven't guessed that was "step two". Avoidance of your view of step three is completely up to you now.

Dan +†+ said...

Rhiggs,

>>Care to have a go at answering it and providing your proof?

See my comment above to Ryk

:-D

rhiggs said...

Ryk,

Yeah it's the same playbook, but I don't think Dan even reads it. He simply parrots Sye's catchphrases without actually understanding the underlying argument, as he has admitted himself. Apparently I am being dishonest by bringing this up - for some unknown reason - even though Dan comes over here and essentially trolls a comment that has nothing to do with the post.

Evidence that Dan has no clue what he's talking about include a recent time when he was caught out arguing that, by certainty, he means proof beyond a reasonable doubt (the very opposite of what the playbook says):


"When I speak of proof I want to say proof without reasonable doubt. That is a reasonable approach to situations. Agree?

proof without reasonable doubt = certainty. "



Clearly not a presuppositionalist scholar yet, eh? I had fun with him that time!

Here, he has claimed that Sye's (and so by default his own) proof does not contain a logical fallacy. Since he claims this, he clearly must know what this proof is, but strangely neither he nor Sye are willing to provide it.

I wonder why :-D


ps Sye has been very active over here for the last few weeks, so sign up if you want to engage with him. It's actually very entertaining - several other Christian are equally as unimpressed with his circular reasoning and smug apologetic approach

rhiggs said...

Eh Dan,

I already addressed this. I said that I not asking you to prove it to me, just provide the proof that you think you and Sye might agree upon...

This is hilarious. These guys claim absolute certainty, yet they can't even prove they exist!!

Priceless :-D

Dan +†+ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan +†+ said...

Rhiggs,

>>I said that I not asking you to prove it to me, just provide the proof that you think you and Sye might agree upon...

Nice answer you have to the questions. Ignoratio elenchi

>>These guys claim absolute certainty, yet they can't even prove they exist!!

Nice answer you have to the questions. Ignoratio elenchi

Ryk said...

Dan asked me
1. Does the thing proven have to be absolutely true?
2. Does the thing proven have to be known for certain to be absolutely true?
3. Does the thing proven have to follow absolute laws of logic?



1. No
2. No
3. Laws of logic are not absolute they are constructs by which humans make sense of the universe. Laws of logic are axiomatic in that they generaly can not be refuted by argument because they are self evident and are typicaly their own proof. Such as "Logic exists, any argument to the contrary would use logic thus proving logic exists.

This in no way implies absolute, absolute would indicate they had some impact or authority beyond human thought and discussion..

Therefore proof to me is an argument or presentation of evidence which is not contradicted by evidence, does not contradict the rules of logic, and does not lend itself to better supported or less speculative solutions.

Others may have different ideas of proof but this works for me. Discussion of absolutes is a fallacy designed to imply that human belief and logic is somehow related to the functioning of the universe, which while essential to the transcendental argument is not reflected in reality.

Dan +†+ said...

Rhiggs,

>>He simply parrots Sye's catchphrases without actually understanding the underlying argument, as he has admitted himself.

I would conclude you do not have any children. Or worse that you put such unreachable goals on them that they are completely messed up. Run infant! Get up and run?

I admit I am a noob to this apologetics and my understanding is shaky at times. But that DOES NOT mean that I will not be running marathons soon.

You like to discourage people, that speaks volumes of your character.

>>Apparently I am being dishonest by bringing this up - for some unknown reason

Well maybe not dishonest, but more like being a jerk.

rhiggs said...

Dan,

Ignoratio elenchi is the informal fallacy of presenting an argument that may in itself be valid, but does not address the issue in question.

Ignoring the glaring irony of you even saying that, the issue in question is not what you decide it to be. It is what I asked in the original post. I didn't ask you to come to my blog, did I? So have the courtesy to deal with what I posted about.

Now stop trolling and answer the question.

Do you exist for certain? If so, provide your proof. You said earlier that Sye's proof doesn't contain a logical fallacy, so you obviously know what it is or else you are lying. Please provide it. This should be easy for someone who apparently has an avenue to certainty.


"1. Does the thing proven have to be absolutely true?
2. Does the thing proven have to be known for certain to be absolutely true?
3. Does the thing proven have to follow absolute laws of logic?"


You can decide. It's YOUR proof. I'm not asking you to prove it to me, just provide the proof that you claim you have...


"Well maybe not dishonest, but more like being a jerk. "

There's nothing wrong with being ignorant of a subject Dan. I could forgive that. There is a lot wrong with continually using a failed argument that you don't even understand whilst maintaining that anyone who disagrees is going to burn in hell for eternity. That's what I call a jerk. Oh, and cry me a river. I didn't see you step in once when Stormbringer was being a complete ass on your blog.

Ryk said...

Actually Dan you are just attempting to divert away from the issue at habd as you are unable to address it. You do copy Sye, for that is his tactic as well.

As to me I answered your question in case you missed it so do please continue. Also if you would like to fill in for Sye and attempt to validate the possibility of revelation as a means of establishing truth claims, feel free to have a go at it.

Dan +†+ said...

Ryk,

3. Does the thing proven have to follow absolute laws of logic?

>>Laws of logic are not absolute they are constructs by which humans make sense of the universe.

The Laws of logic are not absolute? OK Great! I am ready to answer your question then. Here it is:

The purple weighs green therefore bathtub penguin the much.

Hope that is satisfactory for you.

rhiggs said...

The purple weighs green therefore bathtub penguin the much.


Dan, are you happy to go on the record as this being your proof that you exist for certain? If so, I'm happy enough with that. I'll even make an edit to the main post and enter it in...

Anonymous said...

Hi
Chris here.

Dan my presupposition is that you were hit on the head by a rock and can't think rationally. Please prove you can think rationally before I answer your questions.

After all it wouldn't do any good me answering your questions & you not understanding a word because of your poor demented state now would it?

Oh and please don't use any of these non-answers from Sye as they've already been shown as the drivel they are. Then again what else should we expect from someone who has brain damage?

1) Asking the question implies that Sye [or you] can answer in a rational fashion.

Refutation: False because I am presupposing that Sye’s [and your] nurse is dumbing down the questions and translating his [and your] resulting gibbering into answers.

2) The question is a false analogy of presuppositionalism.
TAG does not ask the atheist to provide evidence that they can think rationally, nor does TAG assume that the atheist CANNOT think rationally, but merely that they have exactly zero justification for the foundations of rationaly thought.
Refutation: Sorry but the definition of an analogical argument is:
Logic. a form of reasoning in which one thing is inferred to be similar to another thing in A CERTAIN RESPECT, on the basis of the known similarity between the things in other respects.
Does my argument have some similarities to TAG? Oh yes it does!
A. TAG presupposes the athiest has ‘zero justification for the foundations of rational thought’. Just like I'm presupposing you have zero justification for your belief that you possess the ability to think rationally due to your brain injury.
B. TAG uses viciously circular reasoning to justify itself just like my presupposition uses viciously circular reasoning to justify itself.
That makes my analogy valid.

3) God has given sye [and you] a personal revelation which informs him [and you] that he [and you] can think rationally.
Refutation: Many people who are insane due to brain injury would make the same claim sye. That being so your assertion proves nothing and in fact tends to suggest that you do have rather severe brain damage.

Indeed sye wrote that:
If I wanted to spend time refuting so-called 'personal revelations,' I’d go to the local mental hospital.
Source:
https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?postI ... lse&page=2

Dan +†+ said...

Rhiggs,

>>I didn't ask you to come to my blog, did I?

That is a lie. Are you claiming that you NEVER linked to your blog, on my blog, inviting me? Think hard.

Here I thought I was being nice by reading your blog and engaging with you in your quest for truth. Maybe that is yet even more evidence of your absurd worldview.

>>Oh, and cry me a river.

Thanks for confirming that you do not have children? Unlike you, I will be patient while you are learning things here.

>>I didn't see you step in once when Stormbringer was being a complete ass on your blog.

Are you saying I should have? Y'all seemed to be doing fine in defending your own positions. Besides are you absolutely certain that I did not step in? If so, how?

>>Now stop trolling and answer the question.

Sure, but first I will need to know what qualifies as proof according to your position. Please answer the questions unless you are trolling on your own blog.

rhiggs said...

*Facepalm*

rhiggs said...

"Sure, but first I will need to know what qualifies as proof according to your position."

No you don't. I addressed this already, several times. Scroll up.

Plus you seem to have already given an answer: The purple weighs green therefore bathtub penguin the much.

Are you happy for me to insert this into the main post as your official proof?


"Please answer the questions unless you are trolling on your own blog."

WTF!! How can I be trolling on my own blog. I wrote a post entitled "Do you exist for certain?" and all I am doing is asking you to answer it and provide your proof? You are the troll Dan.

I'm glad all of this is going on the record.

rhiggs said...

Hi Chris,

If you're reading this, a comment came into my email inbox but I don't see it here.

Maybe try again?

Dan +†+ said...

The purple weighs green therefore bathtub penguin the much.


>>Dan, are you happy to go on the record as this being your proof that you exist for certain?

If your answer for question three (Does the thing proven have to follow absolute laws of logic?) is "Laws of logic are not absolute they are constructs by which humans make sense of the universe." Then sure why not? Its denying laws of logic as does my answer. It is very consistent with your worldview is it not?

Ryk said...

Dan
The fact that you do not understand what logic is does not excuse your childishness. Had you actually read my reply you would have to note that as I claimed the laws of logic are axiomatic, therefore true unless an argument can be constructed showing them false which does not rely on the laws in question as part of such argument. This is a clear statement that they are valid unless you can demonstrate otherwise. This is not the same thing as absolute which would A presume that they have value outside of the human mind and B require that I posess an awareness of all possible states quantum an otherwise where they might not apply. This is not the same as them being invalid, quite to the contrary they are beyond valid they are axiomatic. There is simply no reason that validity is synonomous with absolute which it is not.

Your nonesense reply is not only a display of your ignorance but yet another cowardly attempt to deflect away from actually answering any questions. Your position is intellectually bankrupt as you just demonstrated.

rhiggs said...

OK Dan, I'll play. But I just want to put it on the record that I tried my best to get you to give an honest answer.

Read this next sentence very slowly Dan (it's an important one):

I don't want you to prove your position TO me, so you don't need to know anything about my worldview.

Get it? I have simply asked you to provide the proof that you claim you have. Because of this, YOU have to decide whether YOUR OWN proof conforms to logic, not me. I'm just asking you to provide it.

So is this it? - The purple weighs green therefore bathtub penguin the much

If so, then YOU are saying that YOUR proof doesn't have to conform to logic, not me. So by YOUR OWN standards, here is my irrefutable counter proof that both you and God don't exist:

P1: Mice when buckets you are a joke
P2: Week the go suck a lemon sunshine
C: Dan and God don't exist

Case closed.

Ryk said...

As to the aforementioned quantum states, it is possible and indicated that at the quantum level our laws of logic may in fact not apply. A may in fact not always be A and effect may not also follow cause. If this is the case then surely you would then concede the laws of logic are not as you so naivley put it absolute.

I do not personally subscribe to this interpretation of quantum mathematics, however my mathematic skills, considerable though they are, are not up to the task of refuting them, are yours? If so I would enjoy reviewing your equations, if not then by your own lack of knowledge you concede the possibility that absolute can not apply to logic.

It is irrelevant at any rate because as I said logic is a human construct. It is our way of percieving the universe, were the laws of logic absolute it would make the universe subordinate to our understanding of it which is clearly not the case.

Ryk said...

Since the laws of logic are a human construct and since we are unaware of all possible states, there could in fact be some permutation of logic under which your gibberish reply could be valid. I know of nonesuch and it is not consistent with logic as we understand it but perhaps you have a different standard. Maybe given to you by divine revelation.

Do you operate under a system of logic where such a reply is valid? If so, as Rhiggs asked, do you wish to have that be your logical proof of your own existence? If not why did you present it? Other than as a crude and cowardly attempt at evading honest discussion.

rhiggs said...

Dan's proof and my counter-proof (according to HIS standards) have been added as an edit to the main post for a permanent record. I did check with you first Dan and gave you the chance to be honest, but you had no intention of doing that. You are clearly happier to lie and thus, according to you, live in sin.

Debunkey Monkey said...

As someone who has studied both logic as my philosophy requirement and logic for my mathematical requirement in college, I can honestly say that I think Sye and Dan are in over their heads. By that, they have a warped and misinformed formal definition of the word "logic" to begin with.

Logic is a method, like science, which can be applied to reasoning, argumentation, and even mathematics. And much like mathematics, the foundation of logic relies on axiomatic truths.

Logic is not some abstract set of rules that govern the universe; in fact, it's just the opposite. Logic, like science, doesn't prescribe laws to the universe, it can at best simply describe them. In fact, logic isn't even all that good at describing the universe since the quantum world is quite illogical and counterintuitive by nature. Thus, logic is primarily a tool for argumentation.

The argument that God created a human procedure (method) such as logic or science is as silly as stating that God created the English language. Logic, science, and language are all methods of communication and truth gathering. They are not gifts from the gods. and the history of their development are well documented. I'm sorry.

On a side note, whether or not "cogito ergo sum" is begging the question, which is Kierkegaard's critique of the statement, is really a matter of opinion. Personally, I find it axiomatic for two reasons. To be able to use that logic, existence and thought are required to make and understand the statement. Secondly, if we are wrong and say, "I think, therefore I am, but I'm wrong and therefore I don't exist," we wouldn't be making any sense. One can also argue, as Nietzsche does, that thinking does not necessarily assumes an "I" exists, but I personally feel the self cannot be separated from the thinker. They are one of the same. Besides, I'm not a big fan of Nietzsche, and I doubt Sye and Dan are either.

Any other objection to "cognito ergo sum" is complete hogwash like the idea you need something to compare thought to in order to recognize that thought is occurring. I don't believe relativism applies to objective statements of existence in the same way that we need only to look at the Earth to know it exists.

That's all. I hope everyone has a good week.

Debunkey Monkey said...
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Debunkey Monkey said...
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Quasar said...

Ho ho. This is a curb-stomp.

Dan: As a friend, I really have to tell you that you are making a fool of yourself.

You can't answer the question: neither can Sye. You are making this blatently obvious. But this isn't a flaw in your personality, or your religon: it's a flaw purely in the rubbish that is presup.

However, dodging and weaving around the question is evidence of a personality flaw. Most reasonable people, after it is demonstrated that their argument is false,
surrender the argument or question the logic by which it was demonstrated false. It is irrelevant that your opponents can't use logic by the self-serving presup debate-rules: you canuse logic, and assuming you understood the argument your own rationality is insistently telling you that Rhigg's has a point that needs to be addressed. Your own failure to address it is not serving you well.

My recommendation, Dan, is to either look into any way the presuppositionalist argument can be made without presupposing self (hint: it's not possible, self is axiomatic), or acknowledge that self must be assumed to presuppose God: ergo certainty is possible without god, or certainty is not possible.

Andrew Louis said...

Leave the blog world for a couple months to take a breather, come back and everyone is still debating Sye TenB.

rhiggs, I think you're missing something about Sye here. He readily admits that all "Ultimate Authority" claims are necessarily circular, but not all (save only one) are true. That's what presuppositionalism is all about, to presuppose something IS to beg the question. I could even go one further and say that any form of Platonism, or neo-Cartesianism, will also always beg the question. In that way what you end up with is two sides begging the question over the other. i.e. who's starting premise (presupposition) is the correct one? You'll never know with certainty!

I say, who cares, if it makes sense to have a conversation within a certain context (let's say, using the word God) then it makes sense to do so. I'd suggest that the only worthy polemic against Sye is that he's a Platonist - however by and large all those in opposition to Sye tend to Platonists as well so what you end up with is this perpetual merry-go-round ride.

Look at it this way, in some sense the test for truth isn't whether or not what we say represents what we're talking about (that get's us right back to certaintly and the vicious circle of how one knows), consider [rather] that the test for truth is something along the lines of understanding. There too, it might even be beneficial to sack truth all together - sure, we all all know about truth, we know how to use it. However lets face it, at best what we're all doing is exchanging justifications for particular dispositions to believe and behave - truth takes care of itself.

How do I know all this? How am I certain? Does it matter?

rhiggs said...

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for the comment.

I have heard Sye make that claim before. All I would say in response is that, in this post, I am not referring to Sye's 'ultimate authority' claims at all. I am simply asking for his proof that he exists for certain, because it is my claim that he assumes his own existence in his premise. If so, he has no basis for claiming that only non-believers cannot prove they exist for certain. Either can he! So either we all know we exist for certain, or none of us do.

The fact that Sye uses God (his ultimate authority) in his proof is actually irrelevant. The relevant point is that he must assume his own existence (with or without adding an action of God) in order to prove his own existence.

The fact that Sye (and Dan) refuse to give their proof, and try to shift the discussion back to my 'worldview', makes it highly likely that they realise this fundamental problem in their argument. If Sye had an answer, I think we all know he would have given it by now...

Having said all that, you have clearly made several valid points about the presupp approach in general.

Cheers,

Rhiggs

Andrew Louis said...

“The fact that Sye uses God (his ultimate authority) in his proof is actually irrelevant. The relevant point is that he must assume his own existence (with or without adding an action of God) in order to prove his own existence.”

Well, sure, but that assumes (from a Platonic perspective) that the self (being more fundamental) stands “behind” God, therefore must be presupposed first in order to get to God. But Sye doesn’t take that approach and may rather say that God (being more fundamental) stands behind man, i.e. God IS, is first, is all, whatever… Right. To Sye, everything that you experienced is inseparably tied in with God and his essence; again, whatever that is. What I’m saying is that you’re playing a different game by starting with a different – and form your standpoint necessary – premise, and demanding that Sye needs to start from there. Which, maybe you’re right, maybe you’re wrong, but who knows for certain – hence the idea that both sides beg the question over the other.

To put it another way, Sye’s presuppositional position would suggest you need to come to God before you can (with certainty) approach the self – if certainty is what one is philosophically after. Which is fine, but whether you start with the self as [with certainty] evident, or with God, you’re still sacked with the same problems, with the same loops of logic, so it really doesn’t matter.

I don’t get the sense that Sye’s view of God is that of a being per se, i.e. something that has essence and existence in and of itself. Something that, aside from everything else, can be tested and measured on it’s own. Because of that you can’t (well, he can’t) approach the argument assuming that we stand alone as in need of proof a priori to God.

Anyway, blah blah blah – it’s just nice to see he’s still around trolling blogs and getting everyone stirred up and talking. Isn't that the point anyway? Although it would be nice for him to challange his own thinking...

rhiggs said...

Ok, so your point, as I see it, is that Sye might claim (rightly or wrongly) that he can be certain of God's existence without being sure of his own existence. Correct?

I would say this is impossible, since 'being certain' is contingent on the existence of self. How else could he be certain, unless he knows he exists first in order to be certain?

Regardless of that, this proof:

P1: God can reveal things for certain
P2: God has revealed to me that I exist for certain
C: I exist for certain

...is still begging the question. This is what I am exposing here.

Andrew Louis said...

“Ok, so your point, as I see it, is that Sye might claim (rightly or wrongly) that he can be certain of God's existence without being sure of his own existence. Correct?”

Not exactly. Sye would say that he’s certain of his own existence simply because God has revealed it to him in such a way that he knows it.

So you follow up and say: “…since 'being certain' is contingent on the existence of self. How else could he be certain, unless he knows he exists first in order to be certain?”

Sye doesn’t need to prove the self, it’s all revealed to him by God. And right, it’s all bat shit crazy and begs the question, I agree whole heartedly. All I’m saying is that what you’re asking him, where as it may seem logical to you, he has a ready formed answer to.

To spin this another way, an atheist who was also very much Cartesian in his philosophical leanings would view the “existence of the self” as the presupposition (therefore the presup is, “I think, therefore I am…. I am because I think, etc). But for Sye it’s God because the existence of the self is contingent upon the existence of God. i.e. it’s self evident, (to him anyway).

rhiggs said...

Gotcha, I think. I'm happy for Sye to come back with that type of answer because he is still begging the question, so he cannot criticise cogito ergo sum for the same.

If he is certain he exists, so am I.

At the very least, it's proven a good way to shut him up!

rhiggs said...

To add to my last comment...

Andrew said: "Sye would say that he’s certain of his own existence simply because God has revealed it to him in such a way that he knows it."

And I would simply point out that he's begging the question (with or without God). If begging the question is permitted, then I am also certain I exist, refuting his claim that I cannot be.


Andrew said: "All I’m saying is that what you’re asking him, where as it may seem logical to you, he has a ready formed answer to."

But it seems that he doesn't, or he would surely have given it by now.

And I'm not just talking about on this thread (since he is actually offline for a few days due to a debate in NC). I have asked him this question many times over the past week or two on the Premier forums and he has never come back with an answer remotely like the one you are offering. Here is a link to a comment I posted which itself links to 4 separate times in the same thread that he tried to weasel out of answering or simply just ignored me.

His only response so far has been to question my 'worldview'. If he has an answer, I haven't seen it. I think you're giving him too much credit.

Andrew Louis said...

I gotcha Rhiggs - believe me, I've debated with Sye extensively, going back at least 2 years ago.

There as well (I guess I can see how it looks) I'm not giving him credit per se, I'm simply pointing out the futility of the course you're taking with him because I've been there and done that.

I mean honestly, what Sye is - is the guy who comes to the soccer field (football field) with his own ball and starts up a game. However after the game starts you come to the realization that he hasn't bothered to set up a goal for you to score on. In reaction you set up the goal yourself, score on it, and Sye complains that that isn't the goal he set up, so the point doesn't count. After a while of standing toe to toe, Sye picks up his ball and goes home, proclaiming himself the victor.

PVN said...

Kind people,

Are you aware of this most interesting paper in defence of 'Nolipsism'. It's title should pique your curiosity, I reckon: "So you think you exist?"

http://oscarhome.soc-sci.arizona.edu/ftp/PAPERS/Nolipsism.pdf

I'd love to hear your opinions about it. I'd like to get closer to some kind of good answer to whether I actually exist or not.

Existentially yours,

Philippe Van Nedervelde
philipvn -at- gmail -dot- com

Anonymous said...

I conjecture that the label "me" is only usable in a naive-realist way. "Proving" anything to "others" who (for the sake of argument) "exist" and who have a similar-seeming habit of using the equivocal "me" label for self-reference is as epistemically vapid as any other academic bull session. It doesn't have much "cash value". But the conceit that "you" all "exist" continues to amuse "me". Slightly. "Who dat who say 'who dat?' when I say 'who dat?'?"

Daniel Kelly said...

As Denunkey Monkey says, Kierkegaard does have a critique against the Cogito. He thinks that the cogito is indeed a logical fallacy as the premise contains the conclusion.

In the Postscript, Kierkegaard writes: "If the I in cogito is understood to be an individual human being, then the statement demonstrates nothing: I am thinking ergo I am, but if I am thinking, no wonder, then, that I am; after all, it has already been said."

rhiggs said...

Daniel,

Similarly, for Sye...

"If the me in 'God reveals to me...' is understood to be an individual human being, then the statement demonstrates nothing: God reveals to me for certain ergo I am for certain, but if God reveals to me, no wonder, then, that I am; after all, it has already been said."

PVN said...

Zero opinions re the article in defense of 'Nolipsism'? Hmmm.

rhiggs said...

PVN,

Sorry I haven't got around to reading it yet. I've just downloaded it to my desktop now so I'll get to it soon.

Cheers.

PVN said...

And?... Interesting? Very interesting? Phenomenally interesting?

rhiggs said...

PVN,

29 pages of abstract philosophising just isn't what I call fun. 4-5 pages maybe. You seem to be more concerned that I read the paper as opposed to discuss the topic, so if you had something to do with it, I apologise but I stopped near the start when I read this as it seems self-defeating:

Literally, we do not exist. It will be argued that there is more to be said for this position than might be supposed, although, of course, if it is true then we cannot say it.

Can't promise I'll try again, but If you want to summarise their argument for nolipsism then perhaps we can talk more....

Cheers

PVN said...

As the paper importantly informs the topic, I think it preferable you read the paper before I discuss the topic... My overarching interest is the topic itself, of course.

By the way, it's not that abstract.

It's central point is to cast tightly argued doubt -but distinctly short of demonstration- about the existence of (our) selves. Their arguments merit careful consideration. Try to find any cracks in it. Except for the inevitable big one, it seems impressively watertight to me.

Has anyone else here read it? If so, what do you think about its arguments?

Are you still 100% positively certain that you really exist?

The nolipsism paper shows that it is more than reasonable to not be too sure about it. And certainly not cocky about it.

Cheers.

Paul Baird said...

Hi - I'm just reading back through your previous blog posts now that you're back in Ireland and I came across this one again.

I think the problem is the question itself is question begging.

Consider:

"How do you know that you exist ?"

or transposed to the first person

"How do I know that I exist ?"

begs the questions

"What is meant by I ?"

as well as

"What is meant by exist ?"

and "What is meant by know ?"

In other words the terms need to be defined first because for some definitions of those terms there is a positive answer, for other definitions there is a negative answer and for other definitions there is no answer either way.

Sye, and others rely, on the respondent defining the terms and by doing so painting themselves into a corner.

robGRAUERT said...

I'm not sure if anyone still reads this, but how about proving your existence like this:

Imagine a Possible World where nothing at all exists, except of course the principals of logic. Could thinking take place in this Possible World? No.

Thinking requires the existence of a thinking entity. Therefore, "I think, therefore I am," isn't circular, but instead self evident - it proves itself true as soon as you assume it is false. To think you don't exist requires you to be thinking in the first place, but you couldn't be thinking at all if you didn't already exist.

rhiggs said...

Hi Rob,

I think you have just described the basic premise behind Descartes' original proof. The rebuttal offered by Sye is that you are presupposing your existence to prove your existence. My counter to this is that we must all do so - he must presuppose his own existence in order to receive revelation from God to prove his own existence. Sye has never offered a counter argument to this.

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