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Christian Tractatus

(Text as at 12/08/2007 10:17:46)

A distinction is to be drawn between a priori propositions & self evident propositions. A priori propositions are prior to all observation of the (or any possible) world, describing how the world (allegedly) must be. Self evident propositions are those most fundamental propositions for which no further justification can be found. A self evident proposition is a response to the world, whereas an a priori proposition is a prescription for the world though often masquerading as a response to it. An individual's set of self-evident propositions forms (to quote Richard Rorty) his final vocabulary.

  1. A priori propositions that are alleged to refer to matters of fact, rather than being mere tautologies, are to be treated with suspicion. They may only express the prejudices of the proposer.
  2. Alleged proofs of what must be the case in the world, based only on a priori propositions but not on actual observation, are all false.
  3. Therefore, attempted proofs of the necessary existence or necessary attributes of God (such as the Ontological Argument) which are based solely on a priori propositions are invalid. Other arguments for the existence of God (such as the Cosmological Argument) do not fall foul of this thesis, being responses to observation (eg. to the appearance of design in the universe). Such arguments may, of course, be invalid for other reasons, and further consideration will be given to them later in this paper.
  4. It is possible to explain the meaning of the word God by adding various attributes (such as omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence etc.), but this is all part of the definition of a term. It is not a proof that any entity in the world answering to the name God exists.
  5. It may seem possible to repudiate all self-evident propositions and so dissolve into vicious regress. However, it need not be so in practice where there is a genuine desire for communication. Those wishing to communicate must agree some minimal set of common premises. While such a minimal set of premises does not exist of necessity (ie. it cannot be proved beyond all contradiction to exist) in practice it does exist, because this minimal set of propositions is a response to the world which, by definition, exists.

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12/08/2007 10:17:46 447 (Reason - Self-Evidence) Reason

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