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Re: faith

Posted by alexandra_k on October 10, 2004, at 17:13:17

In reply to Re: faith alexandra_k, posted by rayww on October 10, 2004, at 13:42:40

> Is sight a propositional attitude?
> What about sound, touch, smell, and taste?

Nope, those aren't propositional attitudes. A proposition is (to simplify a little) a sentance or statement. So 'the sun is hot' and 'god exists' are both examples of propositions.

Propositional attitudes are attitudes that one may take towards a proposition. One may take different propositional attitudes such as hoping, fearing, believing, desiring, imagining, that a propositon such as 'the sun is hot' or 'god exists' is true.

Because faith (along with believing, desiring, imagining, and hoping) are attitudes that we take towards propositions they are not really things, rather they express the way that a person (or mind) is related to a proposition. Faith is not something we can have, as it is not a 'thing' we can possess. But we can have faith that certain propositions are true. This is all that can be meant by 'having faith'.

> Faith is a power in much the same way as sight, etc. A person can have eyes, yet be blind. One can have eyes that see, yet do not see, and ears that do not hear, even though they function properly. So, what is it they do not see or hear? Could it be faith?

the senses (sight, touch, smell, feel etc) provide us with empirical information. Empirical information is information that comes in 'through the senses'. I am not sure that it is plausible to maintain that faith is another kind of sense that provides us with information. Introspection may be another sense. Perhaps there is a moral sense. Not sure what a 'faith sense' would be about. God? Sometimes the senses do break down. One could be blind because there is something wrong with the eye, one could be blind becuase of a lesion on the occipital lobe. When you say that one can be blind despite the sense of sight working properly then it seems we are moving from the literal to the metaphoric. It is not so much about the sensory information being registered, it may be more to do with interpreting the significance of that sensory information adequately.

> Sight is a power that cannot be explained or touched, yet it is substance. Sound is a measurable substance, yet it cannot be seen. Light is measurable, though it cannot be felt, therefore it is also substance.

I do not think that sight, touch etc are substances. They are processes not things. Our sense of sight is what enables us (among other things) to process sensory information. If it is proper to speak of content or substance then the substance is what the state is about, what it conveys information about - namedly the object seen. We can represent sound visually, and most of the modalities can be represented by an alternative modality. Even if it is just visual 'spikes' on a page.

> I would say religious modules are to represent 'God', not the world, or there again perhaps the 1-99% of them.

The trouble is whether god is in the world. Is the proposition 'god exists' true, false, or neither true nor false because it does not make a truth evaluable claim about the way the world is? If it is neither true nor false, then how come? I don't think there are any special purpose 'religious modules' rather there are other relatively specific cognitive modules (such as a theory of mind module etc) and religious beliefs / experiences / faiths are supported by these other modules. This is why we take 'god exists' to be making a claim about god being in the world by default. The trouble is that there is no evidence that would support or disconfirm the statement 'god exists' and thus it should not be construed as making a truth evaluable claim about the way things are in the world.

> If someone devotes their life to something they believe in, isn't that evidence?

It is evidence that they believe in it: not evidence that what they believe in is true.

Christ believed in you.

I do not believe that Christ (in the sense of the saviour of mankind) exists in the world. I do not believe that he believes in me (becasue he doesn't exist).

What evidence is there that god exists?
- because the bible tells me so.
What evidence is there that the bible is the word of god?
- because the bible tells me so.

Don't get me wrong. I don't have issues with people having faith in various propositions (including religious ones). But such an exercise is metaphoric, and the entities endorsed cannot be literal. That is fine, but we should realise the limits of language; and the limits of religious discourse.

Perhaps an issue is that religious discourse is pretty much antithetical to analytic philosophy. I am sure that there are other philosophers out there who have more sympathy to the notion of faith being a substance. I am pretty literal.

I respect your beliefs, and faiths. Thankyou for your response. You are most welcome to disagree with me (I love a good argument / discussion) and I hope that you do not take offence by my scepticism.





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