Is Materialism Incompatible with Mind, Meaning, and Morality?

Mike, a frequent commenter on my Facebook page, blog, and elsewhere, and someone I have met and chatted with in ‘real life,’ has recently authored a blog post alleging that materialism is incompatible with mind, meaning, and morality. He also claims that secularism is “vacuous and unrewarding” and that secularists are “partial to pervasive cynicism.” Mike claims that secularists can be “entrenched in their dogmas” and “are not familiar with the issues.” He also claims that the metaphysics of materialism leads to nihilism. He concludes his post saying that “secularism is utterly unequipped to step up to the plate as a replacement for religious worldviews.” I believe that Mike has a misunderstanding of what materialists and secularists endorse or otherwise is limiting his understanding to the worldviews of a select few. While I might be totally wrong about this, I will argue that materialism is compatible with mind, meaning, and morality. Read More

Making Sense of Ethics in a Modern Scientific Worldview: Essay

I just finished a “prototype” of my final paper for my Modern/Contemporary Philosophy class answering the question that has plagued modern philosophy in the West, “How, given the advent and advance of ‘the modern scientific worldview,’ can we capture ‘the fact of value:’ the fact that we all have and act from ideas about how to live?”. I had to consider three philosophers from a list and discuss their ideas regarding moral philosophy, evaluate their ideas, and select which philosopher I most agree with and then offer a conclusion regarding how to make sense of values.

I could have easily written a long treatise on this (expanding on ideas and further considering other philosophers), but kept discussion to five full pages. Enjoy.

Essay: Philo’s Veneration for ‘True Religion’

First in a series of essays that I’m going to post this week is a discussion of ‘true religion’ as seen from the character of Philo in David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. As an alternative to commonly practiced religion which Philo calls ‘vulgar superstition,’ Philo proposes a ‘true religion’ that is free of superstition, zealotry, absurdity and impiety, and warped morality in which believers can only claim that God exists, yet make no claims about God. Read More

William James’ “The Will to Believe” : Critical Response

Here is my essay written for my Modern and Contemporary Philosophy class. I argue that William James’ criterion presented in “The Will To Believe” are untenable and one should not believe a proposition just because it makes them happy. True belief should be the goal and persons should not intellectually resign and let their emotions lead them to belief. Happiness can be had a a result of a rigorous intellectual process in which one is firmly grounded in belief. This paper was to only be around eight pages, so I didn’t get a chance to object to Clifford’s arguments (although I have done this a bit here) and otherwise had to limit myself. I would have also liked to talk about intellectual virtues and what it means to be a fulfilled epistemic agent, but I didn’t have the chance in this essay. I could have also elaborated more on absolute certainty and more about the benefits of critical thinking.

Will to Believe: A Critical Response

Background and Further Reading

James’ Will to Believe

Clifford, William K. “The Ethics of Belief.” 1999. Web. 31 Mar 2011. .

Pascal, Blaise. “Pensees .” Web. 31 Mar 2011.