September 27, 2010

This Post is Old!

The post you are reading is years old and may not represent my current views. I started blogging around the time I first began to study philosophy, age 17. In my view, the point of philosophy is to expose our beliefs to rational scrutiny so we can revise them and get better beliefs that are more likely to be true. That's what I've been up to all these years, and this blog has been part of that process. For my latest thoughts, please see the front page.

Joining the Prosblogion

I am pleased to announce that I have been invited to join The Prosblogion, the premier philosophy of religion blog! As the invite seems to have resulted largely from my series on Sobel's Logic and Theism, I suppose that, in addition to thanking the Prosblogion folks for inviting me, I should thank Jonathan for challenging me to engage seriously with an atheist writer on my blog, and Brandon for suggesting Logic and Theism as the text of choice.

From now on, any serious, contentful posts on philosophy of religion (including the remainder of the Sobel series) will appear both here and there. I expect to post the next installment tomorrow, and will try to continue posting at a rate of once per week until I have finished the book, though I fear I may get too inundated with real work and get behind.

(Update (9/28/10, 10:15 PM): Looking at the next post in my Sobel series, I've decided it would not make a very good Prosblogion premier. The following post, however, will be on whether and to what degree evolutionary theory undermines design arguments. I will publish that soon - perhaps tomorrow - and cross-post it to Prosblogion.)

Posted by Kenny at September 27, 2010 10:35 PM
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Congratulations, Kenny! Your posts here have certainly been of the standard of those at the Prosblogion...

Which leads me to my outright plea to you: I have been reading you and the Prosblog folk, Brandon, James Chastek and others. But...I have been struggling to get to the point where the argot, including the symbolism, the notation really, is transparent enough that I can follow your arguments. And it's been a struggle that's issued in defeat more often than even a draw. Could you recommend a source, a book or even a website, that would take someone like me, able to learn, not intimidated by notational systems, with some philosophy background, and get me up to speed as quickly as possible?

I really think that the rigorous guys out there, like you, have a lot to offer guys like, well, me for instance. I'd appreciate any pointers you could give that would let me "de-hieroglyphicize" your posts, if you catch my drift.

Thanks for any help you can give. And congratulations again. Richly deserved.


Posted by: PatrickH at September 28, 2010 4:02 PM

Thanks, Patrick.

I'm not sure exactly what you need, in terms of 'de-hieroglyphicizing.' If what you need is a basic primer in symbolic logic, just to know what the symbols mean and how they work, The Logic Book by Bergmannn, Moor, and Nelson is a commonly used introductory textbook. Given that you have had some philosophy background and don't mind formal notation, you might find that this book babys you a little. A shorter primer is the article "Classical Logic" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP). If you have a very strong mathematical background, then you might prefer Enderton's A Mathematical Introduction to Logic, but that one is pretty intense, and stops to prove the Incompleteness Theorem along the way!

None of these covers modal logic, but the SEP article on that is quite complete.

So if what you need is a primer on logical notation, then I recommend you start with the SEP classical logic article. If you find that too dense/difficult, then pick up The Logic Book, then, either way, check out at least sections 1 and 2 of the SEP article on modal logic. That should give you most of the commonly used notation. You'll find that different authors sometimes use slightly different notation (just like in math), but once you've picked up one system then you'll probably only see one or two unfamiliar symbols at a time, so you can probably figure out what they stand for.

Hope that helps!

Posted by: Kenny at September 28, 2010 4:33 PM

You're right that it's largely a result of your series, but I want to make it clear that it's not merely because you're doing the series. It's how you're interacting with these arguments. It's top-notch in terms of philosophical quality, but it doesn't seem to me to be along traditional lines within mainstream analytic philosophy of religion, and part of that is from how steeped you are in the early moderns, which is a weakness in specialties among Prosblogion contributors, so I think you'll complement the contributors already there in several ways.

Be prepared for a lot higher concentration of difficult comment threads, and there might be pretty high volume of comments there too. Every time I post there I have to worry about whether I'll have the time to respond to comments if it blows up, but often the long comment threads come from debates among commenters that don't touch the original post's arguments as closely.

Posted by: Jeremy Pierce at September 29, 2010 8:31 PM

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