Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Quote Concerning Naturalism and Knowledge

    Robert J. Henle, in the footnotes to his Aquinas Lecture Method in Metaphysics, quotes the following words from a book called Science is a Sacred Cow by Anthony Standen.

    "Mr. Sidney Hook has seriously wondered (in Education for Modern Man) whether man is intelligent. He says this is an empirical question on which considerable evidence has accumulated...But how does evidence accumulate? Does it lie around in a sort of dustpile, or does it accumulate in minds, and if so, don't the men have to be intelligent in order to take in the evidence? Perhaps it would not be too outrageously daring to conclude that 'at least some men possess at least some intelligence.' (p.62-63)"

    This quote points to what C. S. Lewis has called the "self-contradiction of the Naturalist." (see title for chapter 3 of Miracles: A Preliminary Study, 1st edition.) In the second edition of the same book he rephrased the title to say, "The Cardinal Difficulty of Naturalism".

    The problem that both men see here, is that it seems that if Naturalism (which claims that only that which is observable by the natural sciences exists) is true, then all rational inference is impossible. The problem with Standen's remark is that he is discussing the accumulation of knowledge. The fact is, today, computers have mass amounts of knowledge stored up, however we wouldn't say that computers are minds. This does not mean, however, that the general idea behind Standen's remarks is wrong. The fact remains that, the knoweldge, which is stored in computers, means something to humans. This is what is called by many philosophers, intentional being. Human's have 'knowledge of' things. The very nature and existence of such knowledge implies that Naturalism is false.