Consciousness and Being
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Consciousness and Being

From Being to Truth in the Thomistic Tradition

Robert C. Trundle

  1. 260 pagine
  2. English
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eBook - ePub

Consciousness and Being

From Being to Truth in the Thomistic Tradition

Robert C. Trundle

Dettagli del libro
Anteprima del libro
Indice dei contenuti

Informazioni sul libro

This book is of vital interest to anyone who yearns to know how science, theology, ethics, art, and politics do really afford objective truths. Not only that, but how these truths in seemingly clashing areas are interrelated by common sense and rooted in our incontrovertible consciousness of Being itself. Being itself, as the basis for truth, is defended against truth-denying modern philosophers who, having headed in the wrong direction with tragic costs of murderous ideologies, have completely misunderstood the simple origin of truth in the realist tradition of Aristotle, Aquinas, Etienne Gilson, and others. Their profoundness is not bamboozled by the covert and corrupting sophism of today's teachings. Anyone interested in surmounting these teachings that include political correctness and a false divide of fact from value, which paralyze the very modern ethics that helped to create them, should read this book. The book reveals how ethics, art, and politics can be as true as the sciences that inform them.

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Phenomenology Prior to Truth

Truth and Realism
The following chapter summarizes how existential phenomenology affords true observational predictions, which strictly imply true scientific theories, by being ultimately grounded in a pre-conceptual observational consciousness of things in themselves. Our being conscious of these things is certifiable by our indirect consciousness of that direct observational consciousness. This self-consciousness, while a version of Sartre’s basic phenomenological analysis, does not imply his atheism, ethics, or any other position that he contends follows from his analysis.1 The analysis herein establishes also that the thesis is false that observation reports presuppose theories that undercut objective descriptions of reality. A robust realism is so litigious, nonetheless, that even scholars sympathetic to it tend at best to defend only a weak realism. This realism, however, is shown to presuppose the strong realism. Consider briefly how this realism roots truths of theology, ethics, art, and politics in scientific truth after a longer examination of several knotty epistemic problems in the philosophy of science that threaten any form of realism.
Realism’s Knotty Problems in the Philosophy of Science
Problems of epistemology that challenge a strong scientific realism do so because the realism holds that theories can be true or false in virtue of what reality is really like apart from what we will, wish, or think. To express this thought about realism as such, in the Kantian-positivist-analytic tradition, is to utter an unverifiable metaphysical judgment and not a statement to which “truth” is ascribable: a judgment, that is, that is synthetic a priori and thus not true or false either a posteriori or analytically (Kant); meaningless because the expressed realism cannot be shown to be true or false either empirically or logically (logical positivism); or senseless because no empirical evidence would count against it (analytic philosophy). Consequently, since most philosophers whose expertise includes the philosophy of science are Anglo-American philosophers, most of these philosophers would reject this realism out-of-hand were it not for this fact: The positivist notion of “meaningless” holds also for their “conservative verification principle” since the principle is not itself true or false either empirically or logically. And the analytic philosophers’ notion of “senseless” extends also to their own “liberal verification principle” since this principle, a revision due ironically to the aforesaid self-refutation, is itself self-refuting because it has no evidence counting against it, either! Accordingly, the utter dogmatic scope of the conservative principle, which resulted in its self-refutation, proceeded pari passu as well with the self-refuting nature of the unqualified liberal principle.
Oddly, the liberal principle was not included by Hilary Putnam when he appropriately stated: “Strangely enough, this criticism [of self-refutation] had very little impact on the logical positivists . . . ,” adding that this “philosophical gambit was a great mistake . . . [because] the forms of ‘verification’” were “institutionalized by modern society.”2 In this society, even many ordinary persons as well as philosophers misused the principles to simplistically dismiss as meaningless virtually any extra-scientific discourse, much more the discourse of realism. That realism would be undercut along with other unverifiable sentences (including the verificationism itself) is stressed by David Ingram. Ingram notes that the “Logical positivists were strongly motivated by a quest for logical clarity and epistemic certainty” via the “so-called ‘verificationist’ theory of meaning that had been advanced by Wittgenstein in his Tractatus (1921).”3 Impacts of the Tractatus in this respect, continues Ingram, “were deeply disturbing and paradoxical: not only were the evaluative and expressive statements of ethics, religion, metaphysics, and aesthetics . . . consigned to practical irrelevance but (as Wittgenstein ironically noted) so were the [purported] propositions of philosophy that asserted the verificationist theory of meaning.”4
Given a meaninglessness of the verificationist theory itself, the impediment of seeking to dismiss realism by this self-refuting theory was cynically disregarded in favor of questioning things that include predicating “truth” of theories and theoretical sentences for reasons of roughly two sorts. One sort was historical and the other epistemological as well as logical.5 Concerns of the latter include both observation’s theory-dependence and an arcane “Under-determination-of-Theory-by-Data (or UTD) Thesis.”6 This thesis and theory-dependent observation result in knotty epistemological predicaments. Thus for example, if observation presupposes theory, then how can theory be evidenced by observation? And if observed data (phenomena) so underdetermine scientific theories that these theories can be contradictory but empirically equivalent in their predictions, then how are theories that to which “truth” is allegedly ascribable? The schema below illustrates the dilemma:
figure 1
“The main argument of the anti-realist viewpoint,” observes Pawel Kawalec, tellingly, “is from under-determination of theory by empirical evidence.”7 As enlarged upon later, however, the UTD Thesis is in fact a pseudo-problem, a problem that is irrelevant for even a robust scientific realism. The realism is not contravened precisely because empirically equivalent contradictory theories may actually both be approximately true in terms of having evidence-based inferences a posteriori from the data (phenomena) to the theories. The theories may make steadily successful predictions whose truths, which strictly imply inexact truths of the theories, can be confirmed by way of observations. While these observations are conceptual, they include a concept-free consciousness of predicted phenomena as they really are in themselves. These things in themselves avoid the theory-dependent and theory-laden problems that are addressed later. In short, the reasoning is a posteriori, not an a priori one that results in an epistemic relativism.8
Even so, many philosophers are concerned that conundrums of ascribing “truth” to theories may nonetheless be problematic by theories that involve certain historical hindrances. Hindrances in the history of science purportedly include foundational changes where “truth” is relative to conceptual revolutions, or to paradigm shifts that cause new vertiginous worldviews (the Ptolemaic versus the Copernican), or to non-converging theories wherein we are left with an epistemic anarchy of “anything goes.” If anything goes, then conflicting scientific truth-claims and claims of theology, which are influenced by scientific changes, may be incoherently both true and false either at the same or different historical periods.
On the one hand, this epistemological dilemma bears on a claim by the eminent astronomer Fr. George Coyne, S.J., former Director of the Vatican Observatory, for whom “results of modern science” make it very “difficult to believe that God is omnipotent and omniscient in the sense of many of the scholastic philosophers.”9 Neither these philosophers nor Coyne could be correct about God, however, if claims about God depend on scientific theories whose truths are relative to events such as historical periods.
On the other hand, these periods with their seeming epistemic difficulty relate in a different way to St. Augustine’s claims. His claims suppose a theological and scientific realism rather than an historical relativism, when he says that Scripture is a “history of past things, an announcement of future things, and an explanation of present things” (On Christian Doctrine). He brings to mind an idea of verisimilitude (historically increasing truth or truth-likeness of theories in science) in which scientific findings inconsistent with Scripture may yield consistent future findings. And this point relates to Augustine’s critique of the idea, at odds with the Scripture, that there could be no creation of the world because there would have to be a time before the world. But there could be no time before it, per the influence of Aristotle, because time inter alia is a measure of the motion of phenomena and phenomena being absent would imply an absence of time. Notwithstanding Augustine’s astute retort that time may have been created with the world, a notable physicist once noting wryly that relating the world’s beginning to religion in this way resulted in some scientists having to be dragged kicking and screaming to accept the Big Bang Theory because it implied an absence of time before the beginning in a tiny singularity.
Challenges to a reality of the singularity, if scientific realism is untenable since “truth” is relative to incommensurable historical paradigms, among other things, implies a fortiori that truths in t...

Indice dei contenuti

  1. Title Page
  2. Foreword
  3. Preface
  4. Chapter 1: Phenomenology Prior to Truth: Truth and Realism
  5. Chapter 2: Realism Rooted in Our Observational Consciousness
  6. Chapter 3: Consciousness and a Robust Realism in Science
  7. Chapter 4: Science and Observation Infused by Theory
  8. Chapter 5: Theory-Dependence: A Relativism Founded by a Famous "Realist"
  9. Chapter 6: A Robust Realism for Increasing Scientific Truth
  10. Chapter 7: From Scientific Truth to Truths of Theology, Ethics, Art, and Politics
  11. Bibliography
Stili delle citazioni per Consciousness and Being

APA 6 Citation

Trundle, R. (2019). Consciousness and Being ([edition unavailable]). Wipf and Stock Publishers. Retrieved from (Original work published 2019)

Chicago Citation

Trundle, Robert. (2019) 2019. Consciousness and Being. [Edition unavailable]. Wipf and Stock Publishers.

Harvard Citation

Trundle, R. (2019) Consciousness and Being. [edition unavailable]. Wipf and Stock Publishers. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Trundle, Robert. Consciousness and Being. [edition unavailable]. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2019. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.