Wednesday, October 24, 2007

St. Augustine's Argument from Reason

This is a University of Delaware lecture on Augustine, by Katherin Rogers. You can see some of the Lewis themes here.

(Weinberg pp.34-38, Hyman and Walsh pp.33-53)

-----It's called the argument from reason because the core thesis is that human rationality...the ability to arrive at the truth through the proper functioning of your cognitive faculties....point to a God-produced universe------

I. What's to be proven (H 33): Existence of God, goodness of things, whether or not free will is a good thing.

II. Do you know that you exist? (34) Si fallor sum. We are capable of knowing something. Human reason can get at some truth. We don't need to be total sceptics.

III. We also know, in addition to the fact that we exist, that we live and think.

IV. Reason is the most excellent in the human being. (Note that we have moved to value.) Two reasons: (34-37)

A. Because it entails the other two aspects. Reason contains more than the other aspects. (H 34)

1. Universe is a hierarchy of value...existence is a really good thing, so the more there is to you, the better. (Value is not a matter of usefulness to us, but of intrinsic worth.)

2. The Great Chain of Being: dirt, plant, lower animal, human being. (No missing links...that's why there are things kind of on the borderline between kingdoms.)

3. Not an implausible view. Kill a pig to save a child? Idea of "evolution"? "Lower" animals?

B. Reason rules and judges the other senses...what rules is superior.

1. 5 senses give us raw sense data.

2. There is an "interior sense" which enables us to connect the information from the five senses and to judge whether or not the objects in question are to be sought or avoided. We share these with lower animals. Mr. Bunny is able to recognizing that this smell and this color and shape are to be associated with this good thing...parsley. (He won't call it parsley, of course.)(H 34)

3. The interior sense is superior to the other five because it is ‘a ruler and judge' (H 37).

4. Reason is something superior to these because it is able to step back and consider them.. Animals have consciousness, but we have self-consciousness. We can think about these 6 senses. It is reason which judges the senses.

V. If we find something superior to reason, will that be God? Evodius: How about if it's superior and eternal and immutable? (H 37-38)

VI. Does anything exist which is external to the rational mind, superior to it, eternal and immutable?

A. Numbers! (40-42)

1. external...we can all perceive it. It doesn't belong just to you or to me. (e.g. desk).

2. not in corporeal things (a number of proofs, including the fact that we know that the rules of mathematics apply to all numbers but we couldn't possibly have sense contact with an infinite number of numbers.)

B. Wisdom! (42-44)1. (Laws of logic?)

2. Truths of value and morality. (It's better to be smart than stupid. It's wrong to torture small children for fun.)

C. Immutable and eternal.

D. Superior to reason? Because we judge reason against number and wisdom, and not vice versa...that is, if somebody says that they've thought about it and decided that 2+2=5, we don't say, "Gee, maybe it is." We say, "Think again."(47)

-----Of course, you can deny all of this. David Hume and A.J. Ayer do. Math and logic are just arbitrary, made up languages, functions of human thought. Morality is just a matter of sentiment. Total scepticism. Can't think at all. Certainly can't say, truthfully, "There is no truth." Right? Cratylus.------------

VII. Truth=God (So it's an argument from reason. If reason is possible, i.e. if we can think to the truth, then there must be Truth i.e. God.)

A. But is this really the Judeo-Christian God?

B. Transcendent, eternal, immutable, standard of all goodness, what enables us to know...sounds like Plato's Good.

VIII. Everything must have its source in this Truth...everything is established through number (50-52).

A. Form=nature or structure. Everything has form.

B. Number is what gives things Form (proportion).

C. If you stop having form you cease to exist.

D. Things can't form themselves...must be formed by something else.

1. There must be a source for all the things that come into being and pass away.

2. Mutable things depend on, copy, the immutable forms.

IX. God=Truth is the cause of everything...and everything is GOOD!

Proof from Reason: Summary

1. You know you exist. (Si fallor, sum)

2. You know you also live and think. (To know 1 you'd have to.)

3. Your reason is superior to mere existence or existence and life.

A. It contains the other two. (Existence is good, the more being a thing has, the more there is to it, the better it is. Corollaries: The Great Chain of Being, The Principle of Plenitude.)

B. Reason judges other aspects of cognitive apparatus.

4. Therefore reason is the "highest" thing in our world.

5. Something would be God if it were...

A. really existent

B. not part of physical world

C. eternal and immutable

D. superior to reason

6. There is something like that, Truth i.e. Numbers and Wisdom

A. We all "see" it.

B. Clearly not part of physical world (We know it will be the case tomorrow, Idea of unity, mathematical rules that hold for infinite number system....)

C. Recognize don't change over time

D. Reason must conform to it, not vice versa.

7. And this Truth is the SOURCE of our world.

A. To exist must have form

B. Form depends on number.

C. A thing cannot form itself.

Therefore: God

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