Monday, December 10, 2012

Like the Old days Posativism Reveals Itself as a Force Behind Atheism

 A.J. Ayer

I haven't seen positivism rear it's head (ugly? depends) in decades. I've seen one on the net argue directly for being a positivist or put it forth as a guide to be met like a set of criteria. While it's influences are still everywhere, especially in the scientism that motivates most atheist thinking, few actually fly the banner of positivism directly. Positivism is a school of philosophy that became famous in the early 20th century, it dominates from the 30s to the 60s. It's major proponent was A.J. Ayer.(1910-1989) Oxford professor, major work was Language, Truth, and Logic. (on line copy--see below).* It's basic tenets say that metaphysics and ontology and other aspects of philosophy are just the wild imaginations of people who don't have their sentences straight. Philosophy should pair itself down to just dealing with language and try to clear away the linguistic clutter for scinece to do it's thing. What they really meant by that was to challenge the meaning of all words that are not directly related to science. Of course this is a thumbnail sketch becuase positivism is extremely complex and developed into many schools. One major move that Ayer made was to set out to reduce knowledge to science the way atheists do, and in so doing developed "the strong sense" and the "weak sense" of verification (aka "the verification principle). The strong sense is voiced below in the quote by the atheist on carm, don't accept as knowledge anything that its verified by a prori reasonnig or empirical data.

 Positivism was my project, not to support, but to combat. I began starveling against it way back in 1974 when I first learned what it was. Back then we (my brother and best friend) saw it taking over and its tentacles reaching into everything. We were determined to fight it. Positivism was my first windmill. I understood it as the contrary to existentialism. I was an existentialist in my youth so of course I road out to slay the windmill. Mind you, I was not a Christian at that time. Even as an atheist I opposed positivism. My philosopher of atheism was Jean-Paul Sartre not A.J. Ayer.  Imagine my surprize when a llittle more than decade latter (74 to 88) I was a student at Perkins School of Theology and found a professor (William Abraham) who I really admired, who is dedicated to Christian belief and to personal faith in Jesus, who studied positivism at Oxford and called himself a positivist! The evil windmill turned out to be just a windmill and like any tool it can be used for many things. Abraham used it in the service of God, by compartmentalizing the functions and not taking the positivist disdain for metaphysics as absolute.

It's not for nothing that A.J. and his boys have been decapitated and kicked aside the world of philosophy. Perhaps he's made a come back since scientist has filled the vacuum left by postmodernism. We abaonend that furitless line of reasoning knows as "Postiviism" in the late 20th century and we did with good reason.


Michael Polanyi  is credited with slaying the positivist dragon by showing that positivism can't be substantiated by its own princples. Thus it has to be reduced to "the weak sense" which is nothing more than informing us of one's habits.proved positivism corrupts and destroys keyring, including liberal arts and including scinece. Here's a longer essay his place in the history of science and his ststruggle with positivism.

 Now I find it popping up in use by atheists on the net. I see by a quick Google search that it may be a coming fad for atheists to cling to it. Why not they have gone whole hog on scientism. Here's a quote for the post on carm.. This may seem kryptic but he's referring to al ist of criteria which I give and critique below:
 Readytofightforpeace said:

 I'm sad to say that not many theists can really come up with an argument that meets all those points to a tee (excluding the non-existence of god) this is just the sum answer of all the evidence. if there is a valid argument id be more than willing to dig deeper into the subject but its going to be hard. i hope one of u out there can do it.
This argument, in my view, can be understood as follows.


1. Knowledge must be either demonstratively certain or probable.
that was one of the major assertions disproved by Polanyi. this is nothing but reduction of knowledge to one ideologically sanctioned area becuase it can be ideologically controlled.

no knowledge need not be either of these things. It must be global. so all knowledge matters. Even trivial knowledge matters.


2. Only a priori tautologies are demonstratively certain.
that's a reductionist assertion that is BS and can't be demonstrated. it leas to a lot of fun things like trying to make positivists prove their BS by their own standards. so show me a tautology that proves this is the only certainty?
actually it's a manifestation of the strong sense of the verification principle.


3. Only empirical propositions which make verifiable predictions are probable.
show me some empirical evidence that proves this is the only valid way. You have to establish all of this with lgoic. let's see you prove it with data without logic.

Positivism can't be proved by it's own methods. There's no empirical data thta proves that empirical data is the only form of  knowledge and  (although he didn't put it in these terms Karl Popper proved this and I talk about it in my essay on Fortress of facts part 2).


4. Therefore, only a priori tautologies and empirical propositions which make verifiable predictions are knowledge.

this proves exactly what I've been saying bout how atheists are trying to reduce knowledge to jut ideologically sanctioned understanding of scinece. don't look now guys but is is ideology pure and simple. this is what ideology is at core.

this version of so called "knowledge" can't be mandated by the definitions of the term. I've demonstrated this before:

Webster's on line:

Definition of KNOWLEDGE

obsolete : cognizance
a (1) : the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association (2) : acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique
b (1) : the fact or condition of being aware of something (2) : the range of one's information or understanding
c : the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning : cognition
d : the fact or condition of having information or of being learned
archaic : sexual intercourse
a : the sum of what is known : the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by humankind
b archaic : a branch of learning
See knowledge defined for English-language learners »
See knowledge defined for kids »
Examples of KNOWLEDGE

She has little knowledge of fashion.
He has devoted himself to the pursuit of knowledge.
She gained a thorough knowledge of local customs.
Did you have any knowledge of her intentions?
At that time the word science had not been narrowed down to one kind of knowledge; it meant whatever was known, and men of learning were still able to possess most of it. —Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence, 2000

Middle English knowlege, from knowlechen to acknowledge, irregular from knowen
First Known Use: 14th century
Related to KNOWLEDGE
Synonyms: lore, science, wisdom
Antonyms: ignorance, illiteracy, illiterateness

of cousre, Duh this is the reason for all of this. They have actually reduced it all down to this so they can say what they just said. that's what make it ideology. They have reduced knowledge to the one thing they can control and then use that to eleminate their opponent's world view so that their world view is all there is.
The proposition "God exists" is neither an a priori tautology nor an empirical prostitution which makes verifiable predictions.
 "God exists" is not even valid theologically as a statement if Paul Tillich is to be believed. Again the whole atheistic edifice comes down if one goes by Tillich's theology. The basis for the statement is the reduction of all knowledge to the positivist ideology which is at the core of scientism. It is disproved by the reduction of the strong sense of verification to the weak sense. We can rationally warrant belief in God by a variety of means from dedituvie reasoning to empirical data to personal experience. The statement is just groundless ideological banter.

belief can be rationally warranted even by the use of data.

Therefore, we do not know that God exists

well of course we can't because existence is for contingent things. So God does not exist, he is the ground of being. Not existing is not the same as not being real. God doesn't exist as a thing in creation that's not say there is no God. The reality of God can be warranted as a proposition by a variety of means.

It's like old times again. I look up it, if this marks a return of positivism, as a fun. I get to bash positivism directly again. I cut my philosophical teeth on arguments with positivism.

I found an online copy of Language, Truth, and Logic.  It has very small print. to make the pages turn just click on them.

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