Re: [asa] Alex Rosenberg essay

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Thu Dec 10 2009 - 16:26:31 EST

Heya Murray,

I agree. I think Rosenberg's complaints on that front amount to, "Lots of
commentators have pointed out how problematic my position is. Well, I *know*
that, damnit!" But he does seem to imply that being aware of these problems
is sufficient to disarm them, or at least take the edge off them. His
problem (and naturalism's problem) is larger, vastly larger, than simply
being aware that intentionality (among other things) has no place in a
naturalist world.

I'd also point out that this is yet another philosopher who treats "unguided
and purposeless", re: evolution, as not only a scientific question but a
proven one as well.

But I agree with your final estimation. I think few people realize just how
high (low?) the bar is to actually accept a consistent naturalism.

On Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 3:59 PM, Murray Hogg <>wrote:

> Hi Doug, Schwarzwald, everybody else..
> There were two remarks which struck me, neither in the essay itself but in
> Rosenberg's response to the various commentators;
> The first was the title of that response: "How stupid of me to have thought
> of it!" and the corresponding comment(s) in the body; "I tried to signal
> that I was at least familiar with most of the moves in the debate ... In
> general, my commentators did not give me any credit for being acquainted
> with those moves."
> Personally, I allow Rosenberg as much, but surely he should allow that the
> converse applies? Surely he should allow that his opponents are acquainted
> with the moves as well? All very well for him to argue that his opponents
> engage in a "shameless dodge" but that, in and of itself, isn't to engage in
> an argument either!
> So whilst Rosenberg is right to say that he never engages in the locution
> "I believe that..." one might well ask if this is not to miss the obvious
> point that everything anybody ever writes in theology or philosophy could
> well be prefaced with exactly those words. Rosenberg is certainly offering
> well informed opinion, but I think there's a degree of hubris involved in
> efforts to take the intellectual high-ground here. Not that he's Robinson
> Crusoe in that regard...
> Secondly, and more significantly, I was really intrigued by the concluding
> paragraph of this response;
> <cite>
> I grew up philosophically having no time for Friedrich Nietzsche. It was
> Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea that led me to think I had been overhasty
> for 40 years or so. Now I am prepared to embrace the passage Brian offers
> us: “Whatever has value in our world now does not have value in itself,
> according to its nature—nature is always value-less, but has been given
> value at some time, as a present—and it was we who gave and bestowed it”
> (The Gay Science, sec. 301).” I’ll buy into this view so long as it’s
> understood that what we have given and bestowed is, like that great prize
> they give in international cricket, The Ashes, something that doesn’t exist.
> </cite>
> Personally, I don't think anybody can call themselves an "intellectually
> satisfied atheist" until they have come to terms with a thoroughgoing
> Nietzschian nihilism. That Rosenberg could dismiss Nietzsche for 40 years
> suggests to me that he possibly isn't as familiar with all the moves in the
> debate after all.
> Blessings,
> Murray
> Heya Doug,
>> I actually posted this to the list a few days ago, along with some
>> comments by another philosopher:
>> No responses, I believe. On the other hand, while I don't think naturalism
>> is at all true (obviously), I do think Rosenberg is one of the rare
>> philosophers who happens to face what naturalism really and truly entails
>> head-on. I think more modern effort by naturalists is put into denying or
>> obscuring what so clearly follows than defending naturalism itself.
>> On Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 1:28 PM, Douglas Hayworth <
>> <>> wrote:
>> Has anyone read and commented on the following essay?
>> A non-scientist friend sent it to me for comment.
>> My short answer is "Well, that's one philosophical perspective, but
>> it's no more legitimate or defensible than any other perspective.
>> It's only his choice to view the science as compelling
>> this conclusion. The persuasive nature of the essay itself is
>> testimony to the fact that there's more that just the science
>> involved."
>> Doug
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Received on Thu Dec 10 16:26:56 2009

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