May 26, 2011
True and Immutable Natures in Descartes's Ontological Argument
In the Fifth Meditation, Descartes argues that "from the fact that I cannot think of God except as existing, it follows that existence is inseparable from God, and hence that he really exists" (CSM 2:46). Caterus famously replied with the 'existing lion' objection (parallel to Gaunilo's 'Lost Island'): we can't think of anything as an existing lion without thinking of it as existing, so the existing lion must exist (CSM 2:72). In fact, Caterus didn't need to add 'existing' at all: existence is a necessary condition for the exemplification of any property whatsoever. Nothing can be red, blue, five feet...
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May 20, 2011
PDFs From Early English Books Online
Early English Books Online (EEBO) has a truly impressive collection of early modern texts. Basically everything imaginable is there. It's a subscription service, but every university I've been at has had a campus-wide subscription. Unfortunately, when you go to view a text, they just give you an HTML page with a JPEG image of one page at a time. This makes it almost unusable. I just discovered today that it is possible to download PDFs of entire books, or selected chapters, from EEBO. I'm not sure how long this feature has been around. Anyway, here is what you have to...
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May 16, 2011
Quote of the Day: Polkinghorne on the Creation Story
The Bible is often rightly said not to be a book but a library. It contains a great variety of different kinds of writing: poetry and prose, history and story, letters, laws, and so on. Very great mistakes can be made, and much disrespect shown to Scripture, if a reader carelessly confuses one genre with another. Those who attempt to read Genesis 1 and 2 as if these chapters were divinely dictated scientific texts, kindly provided by God to save us the trouble of attempting to read the book of nature for ourselves, are committing just such an act of...
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May 9, 2011
Berkeley and Stillingfleet
I'm increasingly convinced that the debate between Locke and Stillingfleet is important background to Berkeley. Berkeley, like Stillingfleet, thinks that Locke's philosophy leads to 'Socinian scruples' (PHK 95). Furthermore, even in the early works, Berkeley seems to be attacking the 'free-thinkers' (DHP, Pref.), but the only writer he quotes is Locke. This was the behavior Locke complained about in Stillingfleet. Stillingfleet was attacking 'the gentlemen of the new way of reasoning', who, according to Stillingfleet, denied the Trinity (the main target was John Toland), but only Locke is ever quoted. In addition to the fact that the Locke-Stillingfleet correspondence was...
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