Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Sydney Hook: God, Necessity, and the Laws of Logic

"Now if the laws of logic are taken as formal conditions of discourse, they cannot establish the existence of anything (including God) as necessary. If they are taken as statements ,about things, then they produce an embarrassing richness of necessary existences. Those who accepted them would be under the intellectual compulsion of finding a way to distinguish between God and other necessary existences. This makes it impossible for believers to use the laws of logic alone, for since they generally assume that the existence of other things depends upon God, they cannot accept any method of argument which leads to the conclusion that there are other necessary existences as well. Such a conclusion would entail that God's power is limited."

--from Critiques of God (1976), Peter Angeles ed., "Modern Knowledge and the Concept of God", page 24 (from Hook's Quest For Being, 1961)

This has a number of problems:

1 If the laws of logic are the formal conditions of discourse, then one cannot question their own existence or the existence of what must be assumed in order to contemplate the situation. The laws of logic are necessarily both the formal and the practical existing conditions that make discourse possible.

2 To say that the formal conditions of discourse cannot prove existence is to use those formal conditions of discourse as authorities about formal conditions of discourse adjudicating existence in that statement itself. A denial doesn't get you a free arbitrary exemption from scrutiny, unless the burden of proof is on the affirmative claim. And this is compounded by the fatal self-reference inconsistency and self-destruction.

And the burden of proof is on the person who can't avoid using as well as assuming those formal conditions of discourse in order to pass judgment on the proper means of deciding existence claims.

Once again, as I said in the frontiers lecture, the rationally necessary is necessarily the existentially real, as well as the theoretic real, because any argument denying that is self-contradictory in trying to rationally necessitate its own truth about the experientially real in that selfsame formal-condition-based argument about existential moment-by-moment reality.

3 And those formal conditions of discourse produce, in the sense of revealing, in both what they assume and what they imply, a number of irreducibly basic necessary statements.

But the only embarrassment is from Hook's self-contradictions. Distinguishing between God and other necessary existences is precisely what prevents the atheist from seeing God in the ultimacy, efficacy, and, even morality of general rationality itself.

Using the laws of logic is using certain aspects of Ultimate Mind, or God.

Where there is no dependency, there is reason itself, whose set of principles assumes, implies, and embodies various essential characteristics of God.

Hook, like all other rationalist atheists, uses reason as a God of Mind.