Bethrick’s most recent response to my post here – http://choosinghats.blogspot.com/2009/09/all-bethrick-all-time.html is frankly one of the poorest responses I have ever seen him make.
Objectivists, as I understand it, have never quite been accepted in the realm of academic philosophy (if you do not believe me, try to research the topic via philosophical sources; most encyclopedias do not even mention Objectivism or Rand). Their terminology is often extremely vague, and there is reason for this. Rand was after certainty in a world which told her, and everyone else, that there is no such thing. She presented ideas to counter this, to give people a place to stand that is peppered with pragmatism. Philosophy is not a joke or a game to Objectivists, they want something they can live and die by without worrying about the skeptic.
Of course, fiction books and obfuscation are not the route to countering, for example, the rigorous skeptical epistemologies found in the non-Christian schools I grew up in nor the atheistic and liberal Philosophy and Religion departments I did my undergraduate work in. If one is to be honest with oneself, he or she cannot simply hand waive the arguments which have been offered by the skeptics since the beginning of recorded philosophical inquiry. Thankfully there is good news for gentlemen like Mr. Bethrick. Christ offers hope for those who would find none in their allegedly God-less, directionless worlds. Christ offers certainty and knowledge as a response to the foolish wisdom of the world. All of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him.
Unfortunately Bethrick has continued his dishonest (or perhaps ignorant, though I do not know how this could be the case at this point in his “career”) denial of rather basic facts; substituting for reality his own arbitrary beliefs to try and escape from argumentation and the skepticism it leads to.
For example Bethrick writes that there is no such thing as a circular definition, which is just false. I invite the reader to study a little logic and he or she will come across discussions of circular definitions rather quickly. Even Googling “circular definitions” brings up a lengthy list. ( For example – http://www.onegoodmove.org/fallacy/circle.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circular_definition )
Bethrick often recommends books. I will return the favor and recommend Copi’s Introduction to Logic, which contains a useful discussion of this subject.
Upon studying the topic of definitions in the broader subject of logic, one may also discover that definitions are often provided by way of example. Bethrick claims that I have written something “patently false” when I state that he does not provide a definition for “previously validated’ by way of example. Calling something patently false with the result that it actually becomes such may be fine in Bethrick’s Peter Pan epistemology, but it does not work out so well in reality. As I explained, the illustration provided by Bethrick does not exemplify “previously validated” at all, which is what is needed if Bethrick seeks to define the term by way of example. Again, the “definition” provided is circular, it presents us with no new understanding of the term in question. Further, “the illustration only shows an alleged use of previous validation in science rather than showing what this process is or how it works.” Bethrick responds to this, “You didn’t ask me to show how it works. I was only responding to the questions which you had asked.” No, I did not ask him to show me how it works, I asked him for a definition of what it is. He may do this by way of a non-circular definition, example, obstensibly, etc. but the point is that he has done none of the above. It may help the reader to review my previous post concerning this.
I will not at this moment take the time to review what Bethrick said concerning whether or not previously validated (whatever that means, he still has not told us) facts can be unseated by newly experienced facts. It is possible I misquoted him. It is not important. If Bethrick thinks that new facts can unseat previously validated facts but do not ever actually do so then there is no pragmatic distinction being made. The argument remains the same.
The vacuousness of the next part of Bethrick’s response is equivalent to that of the part already discussed as Bethrick fails to see when the very arguments he uses apply to his own position. Recall, for example, that Bethrick submits in his illustration that the scientist, after having apparently tested or at least after having relied upon testimony of the testing of water, knows that water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen. Now, I submitted that the scientist does not know this at all, for the scientist has only “previously validated” the elemental make-up of a particular sample of water in a specific time and place. Bethrick essentially equivocates on his use of the term “water” when he uses it in his illustration to refer to the specific sample of water and then uses it again to refer to water in a much more general, if not universal sense. The scientist does not know the elemental make-up of water as he has not tested water as such. It is, yet again, dishonest of Bethrick to act as though I have not provided a reason for the claim that I make that the scientist does not know the elemental make-up of water. Further, as mentioned, Bethrick’s questions would cut both ways anyway. We may simply turn the questions Bethrick asks around for him to answer, “How do you know that the scientist [does know this]? How do you know what someone else does or does not know?” Of course on Bethrick’s view I do not see how he can know that other people have the consciousnesses that I would presume are required for knowledge anyway, so asking questions like how one person knows what another person knows become even more interesting.
Obviously my mind is not identical to the mind which is said to know and control everything, and Bethrick is well aware that I believe this. Again with the dishonesty. This aside, a mind need not be identical to another mind in order to receive information from it.
Bethrick fails to distinguish between causation and a particular causal process in his response, something I did not do in my post, as he writes, ‘How do you know that I cannot observe causation?’ in response to ‘Bethrick does not know the causal process…” Once he does this we can move on to topics like how his worldview supposedly allows him to observe causation and how his worldview supposedly allows for causality which is knowable. Based on Bethrick’s previous rampant redefinition of terms to suit his fancy I suspect we will be receiving some completely nonsense ‘description’ of causal processes made up in order to skate around the problems raised rather than to actually deal with them.
Bethrick writes: “I openly admit that I am neither omniscient nor infallible. But neither is he. So we’re in the same boat.” When I write, “Of course this is not true, as I believe in an all-knowing God who has revealed Himself to us and cannot lie” the referent of “this” is the statement regarding being in the same boat together. Is Bethrick really so ignorant of Christian beliefs that he thinks I am claiming omniscience for myself? Of course not. It is just more dishonest, empty rhetoric. I ask the reader to question why someone would need to constantly resort to this type of tactic.
Bethrick asks, ‘…what does merely believing “in an all-knowing God who has revealed Himself to us and cannot lie” have to do with anything?’ I trust that the reader is competent enough to understand the argument and that Bethick has no answer for it, hence the pretended ignorance. All-knowing, truthful God revealing His certain knowledge to us provides us with certain knowledge of what has been revealed. I am sorry, this is not difficult.
Once again I call upon Mr. Bethrick to repent from his sin and believe on the living Christ w
will not cast him away.