Friday, August 2, 2013

Causal theory of content, religious experience, numinousness and naturalism

  1. If naturalism (of the non-Aristotelian sort) is true, the causal theory of content is true. (It's the only decent naturalistically acceptable theory of content.)
  2. The content of some religious experience involves the property of numinousness.
  3. Numinousness is not a natural property and cannot be reduced solely to natural properties.
  4. If the causal theory of content is true, and the content of an experience E involves a property P, then some experience is caused either by something's having P or by a combination of entities' having the properties that P reduces to.
  5. If some experience is at least partly caused by something's having a non-natural property, then naturalism is false.
  6. So, if naturalism is true, some experience is caused by something's being numinous or by a combination of entities' having the properties that numinousness reduces to. (1, 2 and 4)
  7. So, if naturalism is true, some experience is at least partly caused by something's having a non-natural property. (3, 4)
  8. So, if naturalism is true, naturalism is false. (5, 7)
  9. So, naturalism is false. (8)

11 comments:

Mikhail Lastrilla said...

Yet another fascinating religious experience argument!

Is (3) related to arguments like Jackson's Knowledge Argument? After all, it seems like numinousness, whatever it is, is some kind of qualia (though, needless to say, a unique one!). If qualia can't be reduced to anything a naturalistic ontology can countenance, then a fortiori, numinousness can't be so reduced.

Andrew Cropper said...

I'm a wee bit confused - surely (8) is a self-contradictory premise (and (6) and (7) for that matter)? Might it make more sense to, in those premises, replace the phrase 'if naturalism is true' with 'if the causal theory of content is true'?

Alexander R Pruss said...

6-8 aren't premises but logical consequences of 1-5. And 8 is not contradictory. It is trivially true if naturalism is false. Of course all the conditionals are material.

Andrew Cropper said...

Actually (6) isn't self-contradictory, but I still think (7) and (8) are.

Alexander R Pruss said...

"If p, then not p" is logically equivalent to "Not p or not p" (definition of material conditional).

Andrew Cropper said...

Woops didn't mean premises - my bad. I was a bit thrown by the phrasing of 'so if naturalism is true, naturalism is false'.

Andrew Cropper said...

Ah thanks for the clarification.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Mikhail:

I take it that the naturalist's best bet for an account of qualia is going to be to account for qualia in terms of mental content. And then to give a causal theory of mental content.

Richard Davis said...

It's not clear to me that numinousness doesn't reduce to natural properties. Why should we think that?

Alexander R Pruss said...

It shouldn't, since numinousness is a kind of beyondness...

Richard Davis said...

But if numinousness is a complex property, then it might reduce to some natural properties none of which individually require beyondness.

Similarly, the property of being supernatural could reduce to negation and naturalness.