Logic: The Vaccine for Postmodernism Copyright by Norman Geisler 2010 Outline I. What is Postmodernism? II. What is Foundationalism? III. What are the First Principles? IV. What’s Wrong with Postmodernism? Outline I. What is Postmodernism? A. History of Postmodernism 1. Premodern—before 1650 (Metaphysics) 2. Modern—1650 to 1950 (Epistemology) 3. Postmodern—1950 to present (Hermeneutics) Illustration: An Umpire— Pre-modern: “I call ‘em like they are.” Modern: “I call ‘em like I see ‘em.” Post-modern: “They ain’t nothing till I call ‘em.” B. Forerunners of Postmodernism 1. Hume’s radical empiricism 2. Kant’s agnosticism 3. Kierkegaard’s fideism 4. Nietzsche’s atheism 5. Frege’s conventionalism 6. Wittgenstein’s non-cognitivism 7. Husserl’s phenomenologicalism 8. Heidegger’s existentialism 9. Wm. James’s pragmatism Derrida’s deconstructionism Outline I. What is Postmodernism? A. History of Postmodernism B. Forerunners of Postmodernism C. Contrast with Modernism C. Distinction of Postmodernism Modernism Postmodernism Unity of thought Rational Conceptual Truth is absolute Exclusivism Foundationalism Epistemology Certainty Author’s meaning Structure of the text The goal of knowing Diversity of thought Social and psychological Visual and poetical Truth is relative Pluralism Anti-foundationalism Hermeneutics Uncertainty Reader’s meanings Deconstructing the text The journey of knowing Outline I. What is Postmodernism? A. History of Postmodernism B. Forerunners of Postmodernism C. Contrast with Modernism D. Nature of Postmodernism: Atheism Postmodernism is a condition where [since God is dead] “anything is possible and nothing is certain” (Vaclav Havel). Friedrich Nietzsche 1844-1900 “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves?” (“The Madman” in Gay Science, 125). God “God is Dead”-1. Epistemologically--Kant 2. Mythologically—Nietzsche 3. Dialectically—HegelAltizer 4. Linguistically—Ayer 5. Phenomenalogically—Husserl 6. Existentially--Sartre 7. Cognitively—Wittgenstein 8. Hermeneutically—Heidegger/Derrida Note: Many of these also believe God is dead actually (2, 3b, 4, 7, 6, 8b). Jacques Derrida: Post-Modernism The Man: A French Jew. His Views: There is no fixed objective meaning or truth in a text. Every text must be deconstructed and then reconstructed with meanings as the reader determines. 1930-2004 His writings: Of Grammatology (‘67); Speech and Phenomena (‘67); Writing and Difference (‘67); Limited Inc. (1970); Post Card: From Socrates, Freud and Beyond (1972); Specters of Marx (1994). Paul-Michel Foucault (1926-1984) Influenced by: Kant, Nietzsche, and Husserl. Died: Age 58 of AIDS. He Wrote: Madness and Civilization (1961) Death and Labyrinth (1963) The Order of Things (1966) Discipline and Punish (1975) Archaeology of Knowledge 1976) History of Sexuality (1976-1984) E. The Result of Postmodernism: Relativism If there is no Absolute Mind, then there is1. No absolute* truth (epistemological relativism) 2. No absolute meaning (semantical relativism) 3. No absolute history (reconstructionism) If there is no Absolute Author, then there is— 4. No absolute writing (textual relativism) 5. No absolute interpretation (hermeneutical relativism) If there is no Absolute Thinker, then there is— 6. No absolute thought (philosophical relativism) 7. No absolute Laws of thought (anti-foundationalism) If there is no Absolute Purposer, then there is— 8. No absolute purpose (teleological relativism) If there is no Absolute Good, then there is— 9. No absolute right or wrong (moral relativism) *Objectively true always for everyone and everywhere. All Absolute Value Died with God • “Without God and the future life? How will man be after that? It means everything is permitted now” (The Brothers Karamazov (NY: Vintage, 1991, 589). No Moral Law-Giver, No Moral Laws 1905-1980 “I knew myself alone, utterly alone in the midst of this wellmeaning little universe of yours. I was like a man who’s lost his shadow. And there was nothing left in heaven, no right or wrong, nor anyone to give me orders” (Sartre, The Flies, 121-122 in No Exit and Three Other Plays). Huxley Supports Sexual License “The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom” (End and Means, 272). A Worldview Without God “Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving…. His origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms…. All the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system…. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built” (Bertrand Russell, “A Free Man’s Worship,” in The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell, 67). Outline I. What is Postmodernism? The Root: Atheism The Fruit: Relativism Outline I. II. What is Postmodernism? What is Foundationalism? A. Definition: Foundationalism is the view that there are fundamental self-evident first principles which form the basis of all our knowledge. Outline I. II. What is Postmodernism? What is Foundationalism? A. Definition B. Difference: 1. Foundationalism: Truth is based in self-evident First Principles. 2. Postmodernism: There are no selfevident First Principles of knowing (Anti-Foundationalism). Outline I. II. What is Postmodernism? What is Foundationalism? A. Definition B. Difference C. Distinction 1. Deductive Foundationalism a. Statement: All truths are deducible from self-evident first principles) b. Proponents (Spinoza/Descartes) 2. Reductive Foundationalism a. Statement: All truths are reducible to (based on) self-evident first principles. b. Proponent (Thomas Aquinas) 1. Deductive Foundationalism A. Its Operation (like Euclidian Geometry): a. Begins with self-evident axioms. b. It deduces all truth from these axioms. B. Its Problems: a. Not all axioms are necessary (Different axioms are possible). b. Logically necessary axioms are empty (They yield no knowledge about reality). 1) “All triangles have three sides” (does not tell us there are any triangles). 2) “All husbands are married” (does not tell us there are any husbands). 2. Reductive Foundationalism a. Every statement not evident in itself must be evident in terms of something else. b. But there cannot be an infinite regress of non-evident statements.* c. Hence, there must be a first selfevident statement in terms of which non-evident statements are known to be true. *An endless regress of explanations is an attempt to explain away the need for an explanation. Outline I. What is Postmodernism? II. What is Foundationalism? III. What are the First Principles? A. First Principles Defined (in Reductive view) 1. A self-evident statement, or-2. A statement where the predicate term is reducible to the subject term. a) All triangles have three sides (#1 below). b) Every contingent being has a cause (#2). 1) Contingent means could not-be. 2) But non-being can’t cause being (# 5). B. Some First Principles Listed 1. Law of Existence: “Being is” (i.e., Something exists). 2. Law of Identity: “Being is being” (B is B). 3. Law of Non-Contradiction: “Being is not non-being” (B is not non-B). 4. Law of Excluded Middle: “Either Being or non-being” (Either B or not B). 5. Law of Causality: “Non-being cannot cause being” (Non-B --/ being). 6. Law of Analogy: “An effect is similar to its efficient cause” (B--->b). Outline What is Postmodernism? I. II. What is Foundationalism? III. What are the First Principles? IV. What’s Wrong with Postmodernism? A. It can’t be thought consistently B. It can’t be spoken consistently C. It can’t be lived consistently A. It can’t be thought consistently 1225-1274 “If there were an infinite regress in demonstration, demonstration would be impossible, because the conclusion of any demonstration is made certain by reducing it to the first principle of demonstration” (Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, 244). A. It can’t be thought consistently 1. Every attempt to deny first principles uses them in the very denial. a. “Nothing exists” implies something exists (namely, the person denying it). b. “Being is not being” assumes that the term “being” is identical to itself, otherwise the negation would not be of the same thing. c. “Contradictories can both be true” assumes that the contradiction of that statement can not be true. A Self-Defeating Statement “I don’t exist.” “Then who said that?” A Self-Defeating Statement “Opposites can both be true.” “Is the opposite of that true?” A Self-Defeating Statement “I can’t speak a word in English.” “Didn’t he say that in English?” A. It can’t be thought consistently 1. Every attempt to deny first principles uses them in the very denial. 2. Relation of logic and God. a. Ontologically (order of being)—God is the basis for logic (logic follows from His rational nature). b. Epistemologically (order of knowing) —Logic is the basis for knowing God. Note: God is the basis for logic, but logic is the basis for our knowledge about God. First Principles Lead to God Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758 1. Something undeniably exists (e.g., I do) (#1). 2. Nothing cannot cause something (# 5). 3. Therefore, something eternally and necessarily exists. 4. A personal, intellectual, and moral being undeniably exists (e.g., I do). 5. Hence, a personal, intellectual, moral, eternal, and necessary Being exists (i. e., God). Note: Edwards used 1-3. Famous Former Atheist Anthony Flew “It is simply inconceivable that any material matrix or field can generate agents who think and act…. A force field does not plan or think. So…the world of living, conscious, thinking beings has to originate in a living Source, a Mind” (There is a God, 183). Outline I. What is Postmodernism? II. What is Foundationalism? III. What are the First Principles? IV. What’s Wrong with Postmodernism? A. It can’t be thought consistently B. It can’t be spoken consistently A Self-Defeating Statement “Words cannot express meaning.” “Then what do these words mean?” A Self-Defeating Statement “There is no objective truth.” “Is that an objective truth?” A Self-Defeating Statement “There is no objective view of history.” “Is that an objective view of history?” A Self-Defeating Statement “There is no objective interpretation.” “Is that an objective interpretation?” Problem with Postmodernism As It aims at something else,-- --It kills itself! Answering an Objection Objection: Postmodernism is not making any truth claims. Response: Then why write books? The Claim to Make no Truth Claim “You can argue with a man who says, ‘Rice is unwholesome’: but you neither can nor need argue with a man who says, ‘Rice is unwholesome, but I’m not saying this is true.’ I feel that this surrender of the claim to truth has all the air of an expedient adopted at the last moment. If [they]…do not claim to know any truths, ought they not to have warned us rather earlier of the fact? For really from all the books they have written…one would have got the idea that they were claiming to give a true account of things. The fact surely is that they nearly always are claiming to do so. The claim is surrendered only when the question discussed…is pressed; and when the crisis is over the claim is tacitly resumed” (Lewis, Miracles, 24). Outline What is Postmodernism? I. II. What is Foundationalism? III. What are the First Principles? IV. What’s Wrong with Postmodernism? A. It can’t be thought consistently. B. It can’t be spoken consistently. C. It can’t be lived consistently. C. It can’t be lived consistently 1912-1984 “All men constantly and consistently act as though Christianity is true…, Modern men say there is no love, there is only sex, but they fall in love…. Actually —every moment of his life—he is acting as though Christianity were true and it is only the Christian system that tells him why he can, must, and does act the way he does” (He is There and He is not Silent, 70-71). Atheist Admits His Need for God "I needed God.… I reached out for religion, I longed for it, it was the remedy. Had it been denied me, I would have invented it myself” (The Words, 102, 97). Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980) Atheist Albert Camus: “For anyone who is alone, without God and without a master, the weight of days is dreadful” (The Fall, 133). Nietzsche: To an “Unknown God” “Unknown one! Speak. What wilt thou, unknown-god?… Do come back With all thy tortures! To the last of all that are lonely, Oh, come back!… And my heart’s final flame --Flares up for thee! Oh, come back, My unknown god! My pain! My last--happiness!” (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part Four, “The Magician”). Agnostic Bertrand Russell Letter to Lady Ottoline • “Even when one feels nearest to other people, something in one seems obstinately to belong to God...--at least that is how I should express it if I thought there was a God. It is odd, isn’t it? I care passionately for this world and many things and people in it, and yet…what is it all?” There must be something more important one feels, though I don’t believe there is” (my emphasis). Marx is Dead! “God is Dead; Marx is dead, and I am not feeling too well either” (Time cover, European edition, 1978). Friedrich Nietzsche 1844-1900 “I hold up before myself the images of Dante and Spinoza, who were better at accepting the lot of solitude. Of course, their way of thinking, compared to mine, was one which made solitude bearable; and in the end, for all those who somehow still had a “God” for company.... My life now consists in the wish that it might be otherwise …and that somebody might make my “truths” appear incredible to me…” (Letter to Overbeck, 7/2/1865). Hume Couldn’t Live His Skepticism “Most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds [of doubt], nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of the philosophical melancholy and delirium…” (A Treatise on Human Nature 1.4.7). David Hume (d. 1776) Hume Couldn’t Live His Skepticism “I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse…; and when after three or four hours’ amusement, I would return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strained, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther” (ibid. 1.4.7). Will Durant and Son • “I survive morally because I retain the moral code that was taught me along with the religion, while I discarded the religion…. You and I are living on a shadow…. But what will happen to our children…? They are living on the shadow of a shadow” (Chicago Sun-Times 8/24/75 1B). "What's Wrong with Humanism?" • The British Humanist Magazine charges that Humanism is almost "clinically detached from life." It recommends they develop a humanist Bible, a humanist hymnal, Ten Commandments for humanists, and even confessional practices! In addition, "the use of hypnotic techniques--music and other psychological devices--during humanist services would give the audience that deep spiritual experience and they would emerge refreshed and inspired with their humanist faith..." (1964). Hymns for Postmodernists “The wise man built his house upon the sand.” Hymns for Postmodernists “The wise man built his house upon the sand.” “My hope is built on nothing less than Jean Paul Sartre and nothingness”! Hymns for Postmodernists “The wise man built his house upon the sand.” “My hope is built on nothing less than Jean Paul Sartre and nothingness”! “Open my eyes that I may see, More of my own subjectivity. Help me, Derrida, ever to be All absorbed in uncertainty. Then I’ll know what it is to be Lost forever in postmodernity.” Atheists Evaluate Atheism Durant: It is a “shadow of a shadow.” Nietzsche: It is not “bearable.” Camus: It is “dreadful.” Sartre: It is “cruel.” Hume: It leads to “delirium.” The Main Point: Poat-modern atheism is not only unthinkable and unspeakable, but it is unlivable. Atheist Albert Camus: “Nothing can discourage the appetite for divinity in the heart of man” (Camus, The Rebel, 147). Pascal: God-Sized Vacuum in Heart “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him… though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself” (Pascal, Pensees # 425). Real Needs Call for Real Fulfillment Dr. Francis Collins “Why would such a universal and uniquely human hunger [for God] exist, if it were not connected to some opportunity for fulfillment?... Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well there is such a thing as water” (The Language of God, 38). Freud: Theists Create the Father Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) “What is characteristic of illusions is that they are derived from human wishes.” As for “religious doctrines,” “all of them are illusions and insusceptible of proof” (The Future of an Illusion, 49-50). Vitz: Atheists Kill the Father! “Indeed, there is a coherent psychological origin to intense atheism” (p. 3). “Therefore, in the Freudian framework, atheism is an illusion caused by the Oedipal desire to kill the father (God) and replace him with oneself” (p. 13). Sartre Dismissed God "I had all the more difficulty of getting rid of him in that he had installed himself at the back of my head.… I collared the Holy Ghost in the cellar and threw him out; atheism is a cruel and long-range affair; I think I've carried it through. I lost my illusion” (The Words, 252-253). But God Did Not Dismiss Sartre! “I do not feel that I am the product of chance, a speck of dust in the universe, but someone who was expected, prepared, prefigured. In short, a being whom only a Creator could put here” (National Review, 11 June, 1982), 677. The Solution to Postmodernism? Thomism! Other Baker Books www.NormGeisler.com Evangelicals need to stop singing: “Should Old Aquinas be forgot and never brought to mind.” The Cure for Postmodernism is-- The Vaccine of Thomism Administered by the Angelic Doctor All Absolute Value Died with God “If there is no [God or] immortality of the soul, there can be no virtue and therefore everything is permissible” (Bantam Books , 95).