"Why dost thou prate of God. Everything you can say is false."
Guess this must be another Eckhart. I can't find where the Meister said this.
Dave Lull alerts me that Meitsre Eckhart did say it, but points me to Aldous Huxley's commentary in The Perennial Philosophy: "When Eckhart writes that'whatever thou sayest of God is untrue,' he is not affirming that all theological statements are false.Insofar as there can be any correspondence between human symbols and divine Fact, some theological statements are as true as it is possible for us to make them." Thanks once again to Dave.
"Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing." When H.L. Mencken wrote that, he was not affirming that all believers are deluded morons. Insofar as there can be any correspondence between rational discourse and cosmic twaddle, some aphorisms are as true as it is possible to make them.
But the problem of describing 'God' as the 'set of all sets' is to define God as an intellectual entity, and so as all intellectual entities are, a product of thought, and not autonomous apart from thought. One is just using 'God' as a hierarchical notion of convenience within intellectual systems, and so completely denying the nature of the God one imagines one is affirming - by falsing limiting God to a finite structure. It might appear to be otherwise but even to describe God as "the set of all sets" is to make of God a finite entity as with "all sets" by necessity one places a limit to these sets, and God as the totality of these limits. This is contrary to an infinity being. This is demonstrated by the mathematical notion of "all the numbers within infinity." Take one of these numbers within the infinity of numbers; this being Pi. Pi- the ratio of any circle's circumference to its diameter- is itself infinite, and so one cannot speak of 'all the numbers of Pi'; 'all' being an inclusive term, whereas infinity spills endlessly beyond 'all'.I've a piece related to what I think is the source of much Western intellectual tradition and its relation to God as a creation of the mindhere.
So you take Mencken as you authority, Ivanhoe? Good for you. Perhaps you have heard the argumentum ad verecundiam.
But Andrew, what thoughts -including your own - are not intellectual entities. It seems to me if you take your position to its logical conclusion, the result would necessarily to reject all thought as inadequate to reality. So we might as well stop thinking altogether.Not necessarily a bad idea, but only one thought among many.
Yeah, I understand that argumentum. I been to college too, ya know. It's the same argumentum used in invoking the authority of Aldous Huxley. What Mencken said makes more sense than the circular rubbish, "Insofar as there can be any correspondence between human symbols and divine Fact, some theological statements are as true as it is possible for us to make them." That's what they say at Trojan: "Some condoms are as good as it is possible to make them." Perhaps you have heard of "petitio principii."
But that's the point Frank. Thoughts are intellectual entities and are existentially activities within the confines of a human mind. God is that which is the source of all else and cannot be treated as an individual object within existence - an existence which existed long before human thought. Otherwise one is dealing with a god, as in small god - an entity within a wider existence, and not God, that which everything exists within. God cannot be reduced to an object within God's own creation.But this description of infinity and how it contradicts the notion of God as the set of all sets" is the inevitable result of trying to meaningfully confine the Infinite within thought- not merely to mention the infinite, but to try to define it as meaningfully existing within finite terms. To unfortunately quote a long piece of my own, from of this piece God, Time, Idolatry:Intellectual thoughts about God can only be emanations of the thinker of those thoughts, and so to make declarations about God is ultimately for the thinker to make himself in the form of his thoughts God. He deifies his own thoughts, however contrary he may imagine his intentions.One example of this is in Russell's 'History of Western Philosophy', where he says that while Occam and Aquinas differed in some related notions, both "admit the universale ante rem, but only to explain creation; it had to be in the mind of God before He could create." I presume the universale ante rem to mean the idea of existence. So God conceived of existence before effecting its actual creation.This is to make of God, the alleged absolute ground of being and from whom all emanates, a temporal being, a creature dwelling within time, and so God as an inhabitant of time is limited by the nature and constraints of that time within which He dwells. So God's behaviour is constrained by the time God created. God has somehow become submerged within creation, and is another object of creation, subservient to its nature.So this notion of God is of a limited being, divided between thought and action by time. First God has a thought, and then later acts on the thought. And though I wrote that God created time, within this logical framework it would seem to make more sense to say that this God is a creation of time rather than time a creation of God. And from there, that time and the God within it are, or would have to be, the creations of another higher God.A similar example of what happens when God and infinity get spoken of in such terms is in St. Augustine's Confessions proposed that before creation, there was no time as we know it, “no past and no future” but simply “always the present.” So what is of interest here is essentially: "Before creation there was no time." The very notion of there being no time before creation is self-contradictory. "Before" is a word dependent on things existing within some sequential order, and here that order is time. It then makes no sense to place a word whose specific necessary context is within time in a context you declare to be without time. If there is some kind of world or dimension without time, then of course there is no place for this timelessness occurring before something else. "Before" can only have its rightful place within the world of time. What should be said is that there is no time without creation, and since time and creation or existence are co-existent, inseparable, it is meaningless to talk of existence before creation, or as it could be rendered, existence before existence.
Indeed, I have heard of petitio principii. Please explain how your own conclusion is not contained in your premises.Your only comments on the original post and its links has been to cite others, in one case (Eckhart) misunderstanding what was said. I only quoted a bit from Huxley, but if you check out the book cited you will see that what I quoted is not merely an assertion (which is all that Mencken's statement is). But I doubt if there is any point to continuing this. So I'm signing off.
Go in peace. Better luck next time. Ya can't win 'em all. It's crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide.
I'm not sure is I entirely agree, Andrew, or perhaps I just don't fully understand. Change occurs in time, for instance, but time itself is not the same as that change, just the marking of it. I am not sure time is anything but one idea we have about and a means of measuring or recording change. As for God, he could presumably make his presence known to us, which would involve out having some thought of him, since thought seems to be necessarily involved in our experience of being. That our thought would not fully comprehend him is evident, but does any thought of ours ever fully comprehend what we think of? Since our experience of being is so inextricably bound up with thought, it would seem that what your are saying - if true, and I think there's a good deal of truth in it - would lead to the conclusion that everything we think - and not just what we think about God - is of dubious value as far as getting at reality is concerned. In other words, I can't see how what you are saying with regard to thoughts about God does not apply equally to our thoughts about everything and anything.
All I posted is regarding the implications of for example Aquinas' assertion, I believe necessary implications of the assertions, but it might have been better to limit the scope a litte - leaving Augustine out of it for instance. What I mean though is that we cannot talk about God as a separate object distinct from ourtselves. We inevitably create a false image - a Tower of Babel with language. God is in the source of thought - the mind that produces this thought - but will not be found at the end of a string of thought. God cannot be treated as an object within existence, or an object of thought. However I'm saying something very different about language. The entire disputing about God or not, atheism or otherwise is a confusion of the nature of language. Since atheism is now so common ithas clearly grown in a kind of organic sense. I think as a logical outcome of seeking God in thought, & because God exists in teh void without thought the inevitable failure to appear results in despair, revolt, atheism, etc.However as said this is all an error in language. The very essence of language is to be meaningful when used correctly. And so a statement is true because it is meaningful. Thus despite some occasional protests otherwise atheism will generally be accepted to mean & be inseparable from the thought of life being meaningless. However this is an attempt to say something meaningful about it. It is meaningless to use the meaningful tool of language to then describe the life within which language exists as meaningless. Which we should see is also merely tautological; i.e. it is meaningless to describe life as meaningless. Similarly Camus' intellectual doctrine of the absurd is as an intellectual entity absurd. That life is meaningful is the intrinsic and inescapable ground. When using language in any sense one accepts the meaningfulness of that language as the inescapable ground. Atheism is the attempt to deny this nature of language as a truth tool, arriving with it at a statement of life's meaninglessness; and should be seen to be an entirely self-contradictory use of language.Just to add that I think the first linked piece about Greek Void is key to how thought progressed regarding God and reality, giving us false notions of 'both' by treating truth as distinct from life, & of 'God' as a product of thought, rather than that which is found when one surrenders absolutely oneself and one's thought. Aldous Huxley used to stress that "Thy Kingdom come" has the inseparable corollary of "Our kingdom go".