VARIOUS MEANINGS OF +quot;FAITH+quot; by James Kiefer 4998 Battery Lane Bethesda, MD 20814

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1 VARIOUS MEANINGS OF "FAITH" by James Kiefer 4998 Battery Lane Bethesda, MD 20814 Copyright 1990 NOTE: This file is part of a book that I intend to publish. Please treat it as copyrighted material, and exercise suitable restraints where reproduction and distribution are concerned. Thank you. NOTE: This file as it stands is part of a reply to another writer, and is targeted at a specific audience: the adherents of Objectiv- ism, the philosophy of Miss Ayn Rand. If I had intended it for a Christian audience, it would have been different. (For example, the doctrine of Justification by Faith would not have been passed over in a single sentence.) I had hoped to adapt it for this list, but time constraints rule that out. So here you have it "raw". ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** Dr. Branden begins by contrasting Faith with Reason, and complain- ing because Theists rely on Faith, whereas Objectivists regard Reason as the sole basis of belief. His complaint seems to be that people ask him to believe in God, and when he asks, "Why should I? On what grounds?" they answer, "Don't argue about it. Don't ask questions. Don't think. Just believe." If it is a lack of argument that he is complaining about, then I have done my best to remedy the deficiency, and I am scarcely the first person to have done so. The fact that the average theist cannot argue the point very well does not prove that theism is irrational. The average college student cannot give cogent argu- ments for supposing that the earth moves, but Dr. Branden would not call post-Ptolemaic astronomy irrational. Nevertheless, it must be granted that theists in general and Christians in particular do talk about the importance of Faith. Are they urging the importance of Unreason? The word "Faith" is used in several senses, and in replying to Dr. Branden's charge it is necessary to sort some of them out.<1> (1) First, "Faith" is sometimes used to mean the faculty by which we grasp fundamental postulates or premises of Reason, such as that A is A. Dr. Branden denounces as subversive of all rationali- ty the doctrine that believing the postulates is an act of faith.<2> But I suggest that the disagreement is one of terminol- ogy. The problem is that the word "Reason" is being used in two senses, rather as "New York" may mean either the county, the city, or the state. "Reason" is used by Thomas Aquinas to refer either to the Rational Soul, or to all the activities proper to the Rational Soul, or to that particular activity which we may call - 1 - deduction. In the following passage he uses "Reason" in the narrow sense, and distinguishes it from "Intellect": Intellect is the simple i.e. indivisible, uncompounded] grasp of an intelligible truth, whereas reasoning is the progression toward an intelligible truth by going from one understood point to another. The difference between them is thus like the differ- ence between rest and motion or between possession and acquisi- tion.<3> Samuel Johnson's _Dictionary_ similarly defines "Reason" in the narrower sense, calling it The power by which man deduces one proposition from another, or proceeds from premises to consequences.<4> In most philosophic usage today, the word "Reason" is restricted to its narrower sense, to mean logical deduction of conclusions from premises. Now when it is so restricted, it is clear that we need another word to describe the process by which we come to accept the premises, or, if we cannot remember a time when we did not hold the premises, our grounds for confidence in them when challenged. To say that, although we arrive at the theorems in geometry by reasoning, we do not accept the postulates on the basis of reason is simply to say that the postulates are not theo- rems, that premises are not conclusions, that the earliest state- ments in a proof are not preceded by still earlier statements. Aquinas would have expressed this by saying that we know the Theo- rem of Pythagoras by Reason, but grasp by Intellect the truth that things equal to the same thing are equal to each other. Modern writers do not use the term "Intellect" here, unless they are avowed disciples of Aquinas. They will say things like "intui- tion," or "instinct," or "faith." Now sometimes they do mean that accepting the postulates is not an intellectual matter at all. But quite often they mean simply that the postulates are not arrived at by reason in the narrow sense. Comes now Miss Rand, using "Reason" in the broader sense, to include what Aquinas called "Intellect."<5> The result is that Miss Rand seems to be believing on the basis of reason what others believe on the basis of intuition, instinct, or faith. But before concluding that the difference between Miss Rand and her opponent on this point is substantive rather than terminological, we must find out, if we can, what her opponent means by "intuition," Find correct page numbers for the following citation: or whatever term he uses. An illuminating instance of misunderstanding on this point is to be found in Pascal. He writes, "The heart has its reasons of which the reason knows noth- ing,"<6> - 2 - and the quotation has been cited ever since as an exaltation of gush over thought. In fact, Pascal makes it clear that he means by "heart" what Aquinas means by "intellect". He goes on to say: We recognize truth not only with the reason but also with the heart; it is in the latter way that we come to know first prin- ciples; .... The heart perceives that there are three dimensions of space, and that numbers are infinite; and reason then proves that there are no two square numbers of which one is double the other.<7> Sometimes a writer will boldly declare that he accepts certain postulates, not because he has any rational grounds for doing so, but because he chooses to do so, by a mere arbitrary act of will. Even here, we must take care lest we misunderstand him. In math- ematics, for example, we are almost always concerned with deducing conclusions from arbitrarily adopted premises. We say, "Let G be a finite abelian group, subject to the restriction that...." and go on from there. On a more elementary level, your second grade teacher used to say to you things like, "Farmer Brown had twenty- three chickens and eight of them died. How many were left alive?" If you had asked her, "Where did you get that story about Farmer Brown and how do you know that it is true?" her response would have been that she was making an arbitrary assumption and asking you to consider its consequences. If you had denounced the making of arbitrary assumptions as anti-rational, the atmosphere might have waxed unpleasant. Often, of course, the mathematician will be working from premises that he thinks true. But even when he cares whether Farmer Brown's chickens are really dead, he will not call looking at them a logical or mathematical activity. Even when someone says, "My belief that A is A is an act of the will, an arbitrary choice on my part," he may mean, "I choose to think, to be rational, to be sane, although the option of lunacy is open to me, and to every other being of volitional conscious- ness." So much for faith in the first sense. (2) "Faith" is sometimes used to mean the adherence to reason as against feeling. Let me give an example. I know of a certain physics teacher who once began a lecture by writing on the board in foot-high letters the words, FAITH IN PHYSICS! The students had been studying elementary mechanics, and all knew that a pendulum bob released from rest at a given height will not swing to a greater height, and could explain why this is so in terms of potential and kinetic energy, and so forth. Now he asked one student to explain this principle to the class, and the student did. Then the professor asked him, "Do you believe all that stuff you just spouted about the pendulum? Are you sure it's true?" The student answered, "Yes, of course!" The professor then unveiled the apparatus for the day, a large pendulum hanging from the ceiling with an axe- head at the bottom. He stood the student up at one side of the room, pulled the axe up so that the blade just touched his chin, - 3 - and released it. The blade swung across to the other side of the room, and back again, just barely caressing the student's chin. "There, now," chuckled the professor. "That's one physics lesson you won't forget in a hurry!" You will perhaps agree that it would not have been surprising if the student had been a bit nervous, or even panicked and dodged as he saw the blade coming toward him. In such a situation, it is very easy to lose faith in physics. But it would not have been reason that took away his faith. The battle is between reason and faith on one side and emotion and imagination on the other. Now if a man has come to believe in God, there will almost certainly be times when he is in a disbelieving mood. He may be feeling depressed or frustrated, and the world seems so squalid and meaningless that the arguments for belief in God seem abstract and irrelevant. Or he may feel a strong urge to do something that his religious code forbids, or otherwise find that it would be very convenient if his religious beliefs were not true, and so may be disposed to regard them as false, or more probably, to avoid thinking about them. In this and similar contexts, many theists are accustomed to call the practice of being guided by reason rather than emotion the virtue of Faith. (3) "Faith" is sometimes used to mean gambling on a proposition. For most things, the evidence available to us is less than conclu- sive. Suppose you are ill and the doctor recommends an operation, but says, "I cannot guarantee that it will improve your condition. It may even worsen it." In this context, you cannot know with certainty or anything approaching it whether you will be better off with the surgery or without it. But once you and the doctor have chosen a course of action, you must act as firmly and decisively as if you were abso- lutely sure that the choice was the correct one. And so with a good many ventures. You undertake the venture with less than certainty that it is sound, but having undertaken it, proceed as if you knew it to be sound, since anything short of that will certainly be pointless. (4) "Faith" may be used to mean trust in a person, trust going, in a sense, beyond the evidence. Let us consider the situation of a young man who is heir to a vast fortune. He meets a number of young women, and finds them very attractive and agreeable. But he is not sure whether they like _him_, or only want to get their hands on his money. He dislikes the idea of losing half his wealth after a six-month marriage, and dislikes even more the idea of being had for a chump. No matter how affectionate and sincere a woman may seem, he can never be sure that she is not thinking in terms of alimony and a community property settlement. So he may resolve never to fall in love. On the other hand, he may say, "I know that I am taking a risk. To love is to be vulnerable. I - 4 - cannot fall in love without the chance of being very badly hurt. But I am willing to take that chance. I prefer it to the alterna- tive of a loveless existence." Not everyone will find that a reasonable choice. There are people whose greatest satisfaction is being able to say, "Nobody ever puts anything over on me. Nobody ever bluffs me out at poker. I call the hand every time. Nobody will ever con me, make me a suck- er, induce me into an unmerited trust, play me for a fool." Such a man will die a bachelor and friendless. He will probably also have lost quite a bit at poker. But he has what he says he wants. Incidentally, if somewhere along the line our man -- the one who is never conned -- _has_ gotten married, he will be a jealous husband. It is a matter of plain experience that, if you start looking for indications that your spouse might be up to something, you will almost certainly find them. And once again, you can choose. When you find a couple of ticket stubs lying around, you can refuse to rest until you know exactly who used them. Your spouse, if reasonable, will probably explain in detail, with corroborative evidence, the first few times something looks fishy, but if your suspiciousness gets out of hand, may very well end up saying: "No, I will not tell you where I went for lunch today. Either we have a relationship of trust, or we don't. If you trust me, then you don't need to know. If you don't, then nothing short of a full-time detective on my trail would satisfy you, and even then you would begin to suspect the detective of taking bribes. We can't afford a detective, and in any case a marriage preserved on that basis is a marriage destroyed. So make up your mind whether you will trust me without proof, and then we will know where we stand." Unfortunately, that is precisely what a guilty spouse, if clever, would say. When you decide to trust someone, you risk betrayal. You can't have it both ways. A warrior, or a mountain-climber, cannot be both very brave and very safe. If you are a theist, you will be asked to put your trust in God. When, from time to time, it looks as if God is double-crossing you, you will be asked to do the equivalent of glancing at a couple of unexplained ticket stubs, tossing them into the waste-paper basket, and forgetting them. Whether you think that reasonable is in a way a matter of values and priorities. Which do you dread more: Finding out that a friend whom you trusted has betrayed you, or finding out that a friend who you thought had betrayed you, and from whom you accord- ingly parted in anger years ago, and who died asking to see you, was innocent after all? There is risk either way. (5) We sometimes speak of taking something on faith, or on author- ity, when we mean taking someone else's word for it. If we did not sometimes accept human testimony as evidence, we should have to be content to know almost no history (except what we could infer from our own archeological explorations) and indeed almost nothing in any area. A jury trial would be impossible if the jury rejected all testimony as worthless, just as much as if the jury accepted - 5 - all testimony without question. Wholesale rejection of authority is as irrational (and impossible) as wholesale acceptance.<8> We must weigh and consider. Suppose that an alleged expert or specialist assures us that something is true. We ask such ques- tions as: How does he know? Do others claiming first-hand know- ledge support his assertion? Do any of them contradict it? Are there plausible reasons why he might believe this, or want us to believe it, even if it were not true? Has he made previous assertions that turned out to be inaccurate? And so on. If the answers are favorable, we rightly regard the question as settled. An example would be our family doctor's telling us that carrots contain Vitamin A. Another would be the atlas's telling us that Bismark is the capital of North Dakota. In neither case do we simply surrender our intellect. The intellectual judgement we make is about the reliability of the doctor or the atlas. Where the conditions for reliability are not fulfilled (as when doctors disagree about the healthfulness of eating eggs, or the value of large doses of Vitamin C) I suspend judgement until I can learn more, either by reading the arguments and reports of studies on both sides or by conducting studies myself. Thus we see that when a man relies on authority, taking someone else's word for something, this does not mean that he ceases to use his own rational judgement. He simply applies it to the credi- bility of the witness, the authority, rather than directly to the matter on which the authority speaks. By the same token, if a man believes something on God's authority, this does not mean that his own rational judgement has no role to play. He will not, if he is sensible, waste much time on wondering whether God may be lying or mistaken,<9> but he will consider most carefully the question of whether on the one hand God has in fact spoken, or on the other hand his neighbor's report is worthless hearsay or his own vision a delusion. He will not be moved by the argument that it is irrev- erent to doubt a message from God. Rather he will reply,<10> In the view of my critics, it is accounted faith not only to believe all that God says, but also to believe anyone who says that God has said a thing. Should I account it a compliment if anyone told me that he had such faith in me that he would not only believe anything I said, but anything that anyone said I said? The result would certainly be, that although no one has any particular motive to misrepresent me, he would believe a good deal I never said, and some things I should be sorry to be thought to have said. It is not really faith in the Divine Word, but want of faith, if the belief which is due to a divine reve- lation is thoughtlessly given to anyone who claims it. A man could not think much of his dog's attachment to him if he was a dog that would follow anybody. Thus we see that faith in this sense is an instance of reason and not something to be contrasted with it. (6) A sixth use of the word "Faith" is one that I hesitate to mention, because it is so easily caricatured by those who deny its - 6 - legitimacy and so often abused by those who affirm it. People sometimes use the word "faith" to describe obstinacy in belief when confronted by an argument that one is sure is fallacious but cannot satisfactorily rebut. Now, on the one hand, it seems that this attitude is the very essence of irrationality. "Senor d'Anconia," declared the woman with the earrings, "I don't agree with you." "If you can refute a single sentence I uttered, Madame, I shall hear it gratefully." "Oh, I can't answer you. I don't have any answers, my mind doesn't work that way, but i don't _feel_ that you're right, so I know that you're wrong." "How do you know it?" "I _feel_ it. I don't go by my head, but by my heart. You might be good at logic, but you're heartless." "Madame, when we'll see men dying of starvation around us, your heart won't be of any earthly use to save them. And I'm heart- less enough to say that when you'll scream, 'but I didn't know it!' -- you will not be forgiven."<11> But on the other hand, almost every educated person has at one time or another had the experience of encountering an argument that he knew to be unsound without being able to state what was wrong with it. For example, many beginning geometry texts, in order to warn students against a common kind of plausible error in geometric proof, present a "proof" that all triangles are isosceles. It may take an intelligent student some time to spot the flaw in the argument -- indeed, he may never do so without help -- but one thing he will not and should not do is to say, "All right, I give up. I find nothing wrong with the proof. I therefore conclude that all triangles are isosceles after all." Or worse: "I therefore conclude that geometrical reasoning leads to contradictions, and is therefore unreliable." Or worst of all: "I conclude that contradictions exist, and that the world is a meaningless night- mare." On a higher level, I once saw a roomful of mathematicians (each of them at least a Ph.D. candidate, and several of them full profes- sors) thrown into an uproar for close to twenty minutes by a proposed proof that the equation "x squared equals x" holds for all numbers. Before one professor finally spotted the flaw, numerous ways of dealing with the "proof" were considered and rejected, but at no time did anyone even consider the possibility that the conclusion might actually be true. And that was as it should be. - 7 - Now neither of these mathematical arguments was in danger of doing those baffled by it any permanent damage. They were recognized by all concerned as pleasant mental exercises, games of "Find the catch, and learn to look out for such things in arguments you encounter hereafter." The same cannot be said for fallacious argu- ments in economics and philosophy. I was greatly frustrated in my teens by people who argued that mathematical statements are merely arbitrary social conventions, -- "We agree to call two plus two four, but we could as easily agree to call it five" -- and I shall never forget my satisfaction when one student suddenly said, "But, sir, you are confusing the numbers with the names of the numbers!" I knew that I had been hearing a lot of nonsense, and it was a wonderful feeling when suddenly the pieces fell into place and I could see and state clearly just why it was nonsense. Not everyone is so fortunate. Students, hearing a professor explain that taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor will increase consumer purchasing and so stimulate the economy and leave every- one better off than before, or that dumping one fourth of all goods produced into the ocean would eliminate unemployment and greatly increase the national prosperity, may squirm and feel that there has got to be something wrong with this sort of argument, but may be at a loss to explain what. Until they have the good fortune to encounter or to work out for themselves a rational analysis of the professor's argument, it may be that simply digging in their heels and saying, "I don't know what is wrong with that argument, but I know it's wrong!" is the most rational thing they can do.<12> Against the picture of the woman with the earrings, waving aside Fransisco d'Anconia's arguments on the basis of her feelings, set the picture of an earlier party where Dr. Simon Pritchett holds forth, and a number of honest listeners timidly attempt to refute him, but are not at all sure how to go about it, and are silenced.<13> Or, even more to the point, consider the young man described by Ayn Rand in the following passage: His rationality is being turned against him by means of a simi- lar dichotomy: _reason_ versus _emotion_. His Romantic sense of life is only a sense, an incoherent emotion which he can neither communicate nor explain nor defend. It is an intense, yet frag- ile emotion, painfully vulnerable to any sarcastic allegation, since he is unable to identify its real meaning. It is easy to convince a child, and particularly an adolescent, that his desire to emulate Buck Rogers is ridiculous: he knows that it isn't exactly Buck Rogers he has in mind and yet, simul- taneously, it _is_ -- he feels caught in an inner contradiction -- and this confirms his desolately embarrassing feeling that _he is_ being ridiculous.<14> One wants to say to a youth in that predicament something like: Don't give in. You know, even if you cannot explain how or why, that your feeling about Buck Rogers is your lifeline to sanity, - 8 - is a clue to what life is all about. You can recognize that what your teachers are trying to do to you is not good -- that the alternate view of reality that they are pushing is one that makes life somehow less worth living, that they are trying to switch your mental channel from technicolor to to black-and- white, trying to make you color blind, or worse yet, trying to persuade you that colors are a hallucination and that your only rational response is to ignore them. You may not be able, as yet, to give a rational analysis of your view of reality, but don't let that prevent you from continuing to see it, any more than you would consent to fall off your bicycle because you cannot explain to some wiseacre how it is possible to balance on only two wheels. The problem is, how can one say this without giving the hearer _carte blanche_ to treat his emotions thereafter as a tool of cognition, to wave aside every inconvenient argument or fact with a casual, "That's all very clever and convincing, but my instincts tell me otherwise!"? How in short, do we encourage him to be like Buck Rogers without encouraging him to be like the woman with the earrings? (For me, as the writer of this present work, the problem is: If I refrain from condemning Faith in Sense Six, condemning it in prin- ciple, at root, and in every one of its variants -- if I so much as hint that there may be something to be said for cautious appli- cation of it in some few circumstances -- I may expect a barrage of reviewers who will say: This writer openly and in so many words praises the virtue of faith, which he defines as holding fast to a belief in the face of conclusive proof that it is false. That he has the gall to describe himself as firmly committed to reason is only one more example of his willingness to contradict himself. Moreover, I may expect some readers to say: I cannot point out any flaw in the arguments for theism contained in this book. However, I will reject them anyway, on the basis of Faith (Sense Six), and surely the author cannot complain of my doing so, since he himself has commended this course of action. How do I avoid this?) I submit that, in order for Obstinacy in Belief to be rational, it must always be regarded as a temporary position, never acquiesced in as permanent. A student who comes across an argument purport- ing to show that all triangles are isosceles, and who cannot see what is wrong with it, has no business being satisfied until he does see what is wrong with it. He need not, of course, keep at the problem without sleep or meals until he has it solved. Other problems and activities may take priority, perhaps for months. He may say, "I will set this aside for a while and come back to it in - 9 - the hope of seeing it with a fresh viewpoint." He may say, "I have not the mathematical maturity to deal with this as yet. Someday, when I am older and have studied more, I will see how to deal with this problem, but not yet." What he may not say, on pain of moral treason, is "I am content to let the matter rest forever, with the force of rational argument, so far as I can tell, overwhelmingly on one side of the question, and my convictions on the other side, simply because that is the side I choose to believe." Suppose that some reader of this book, upon reaching the last page, says: "I cannot find the flaw in these arguments, but the conclusions are so alien to everything I have always believed that I feel sure there must be a flaw somewhere." I do not demand that he declare himself a theist straightaway or else confess himself a traitor to reason. Let him by all means take his time. Let him discuss the arguments with his friends. Let him sleep on the matter, hoping to wake up with a sudden cry of, "Aha! I see where the argument breaks down!" Let him put the book aside for a month and then re-read it. Throughout this time, let him continue to regard himself as an atheist, but -- and this is important -- an atheist in difficulties. An honest man who has borrowed a book and misplaced it will take the position: "Sooner or later, I must either find the book or buy a replacement." He may postpone the purchase, intending to search his bookshelves and closet one more time, or simply hoping that the book will eventu- ally turn up, but the day that he decides, either explicitly or by default, simply to drop the matter, he becomes a thief. Similar- ly, the atheist who is confronted with arguments for theism which he cannot answer, and with answers for all his arguments for atheism, may postpone conversion, while pondering the question, consulting the experts on his side, and simply hoping that some idea will occur to him that lets him off the hook. But the day he decides simply to drop the question, he becomes a scoundrel. For the record, let me state explicitly that exactly the same thing holds true of a theist confronted with what appears to be an unanswerable case for atheism. In discussing Obstinacy in Belief, I have neglected a good many relevant considerations. (1) A man who rejects the argument that all triangles are isos- celes can explain why he is convinced that it must be faulty, by pointing to a straightforward argument on the other side, or by pointing to an obviously scalene triangle and inviting all comers to measure it for themselves. The boy who rejects the argument that his admiration for Buck Rogers is a flight from reality may be unable to point to any counter-argument except a gut feeling that he cannot prove is not merely wishful thinking. (2) A man, not an expert or a specialist in English literature or history, casually picks up a book arguing that _Hamlet_ was writ- - 10 - ten by Francis Bacon (or Marlowe, or the Earl of Oxford) rather than by Shakespeare. It contains arguments that he cannot refute, and that sound convincing offhand, but he hesitates to accept them. Must he look into the matter further, or may he just forget the whole thing and continue to believe that Shakespeare wrote _Hamlet_? For that matter, may a non-mathematician wave aside the argument that all triangles are isosceles, saying simply, "That's not my field. I dare say there's something funny there, but I don't know what it is, and I simply can't be bothered to find out!"? If that is legitimate, then consider the atheist who says: All these arguments for theism are very impressive, and I can't begin to point to a weakness in them, but then metaphysics was never my specialty, and I don't see that I have a duty to take it up. One can't possibly investigate every claim that comes down the road, and as for me, I prefer to ignore all the argu- ments on both sides and just take for granted the simple, old- fashioned atheism that I learned at the knee of my dear, old, silver-haired mother. What can be said about him? My first comment is that this approach is not open to any student of Objectivism, or to anyone else who has already committed himself to the view that it matters whether atheism is true. Anyone who claims that a question is important when the answer seems to be "no," and urges us all to think about something else when the answer seems to be "yes," raises serious questions about his honesty. But as for the atheist who has consistently and on all questions taken an attitude of "Philosophy? Who needs it?" -- well, I am not writing this book for everyone, and in particular not for him. And that concludes my remarks on Faith in Sense Six (Obstinacy in Belief). I am not endeavoring in this section to give a complete list of all meanings of the word "faith," and a complete analysis of each one. Rather, I am inviting the reader to embark on some analyses of his own, and am offering some starting points. (7) A seventh use of the word "Faith" is in the phrase, "Justi- fication by Faith," used by Dr. Martin Luther and others. Here what is meant is (very roughly) recognizing and facing up to the fact that you can never put God in the position of owing you a favor. Any further discussion of this doctrine is likely to get technical, and I hereby beg off. ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** - 11 - NOTES In these footnotes, AS stands for ATLAS SHRUGGED, ST for SUMMA THEOLOGIAE, PBM for the periodical PERSPECTIVES IN BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE, RM for THE ROMANTIC MANIFESTO, and X/Y/Z for volume/number/page of THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER, later retitled THE OBJECTIVIST. Letters after a page number indicate line numbers. Page numbers for AS are given for paperback and (hard- cover).] <1> In the analysis that follows, I am indebted to C.S. Lewis, _Mere Christianity_ (Macmillan Paperbacks 1960) pp121-134; _The World's Last Night and Other Essays_ (Harcourt, Brace & Co. 1960) pp13-30; _English Literature in the Sixteenth Century Excluding Drama_ (Oxford UP, 1954) pp32-37,187-191 _et passim_. <2> N. Branden, "'The Stolen Concept'" 2/1/2j-aa To declare that the axioms of logic are "arbitrary" is to ignore the context which gives rise to such a concept as the "arbitrary." An arbitrary idea is one accepted by chance, caprice, or whim; it stands in contradistinction to an idea accepted for logical reasons, _from which it is intended to be distinguished_. The existence of such a concept as an "arbitrary" idea is made possi- ble only by the existence of logically necessary ideas; the former is not a primary; it is genetically dependent on the latter. To maintain that _logic_ is "arbitrary" is to divest the concept of meaning. N. Branden, "'The Stolen Concept'" 2/1/4h One of the most grotesque instances of the stolen concept fallacy may be observed in the prevalent claim -- made by neo-mystics and old-fashioned mystics alike -- that the acceptance of reason rests ultimately on "an act of faith." Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses. Faith is the acceptance of ideas or alle- gations without sensory evidence or rational demonstration. "Faith in reason" is a contradiction in terms. "Faith" is a concept that possesses meaning only _in contradistinction_ to reason. The concept of "faith" cannot _antecede_ reason, it cannot provide grounds for the acceptance of reason -- it is the revolt _against_ reason. R. Efron, "Biology Without Consciousness -- and its Consequences" 7/5/13d & PBM 34 - 12 - Indeed, it is the philosopher who is in large part responsible for this intellectual smashup in biology. He has consistently advo- cated the use of invidious epistemological remedies for philosoph- ical and scientific problems. ... He has often maintained that all human knowledge starts with an act of faith. <3> Aquinas, ST 1a.79,8 IB ??? <4> Samuel Johnson, _Dictionary_ (London, 1755) <5> AS 942uu-vv (1016bb-cc) Reason is the faculty that perceives, identifies, and integrates the material provided by man's senses. <6> Blaise Pascal, _Pensees_, Chevalier fragment 477, p. 164, trans. J.M. Cohen (Penguin, 1961) <7> Ibid., fragment 479, pp. 164-5. <8> Aristotle, ??? Woe to him who believes all men; woe to him who disbelieves all men. <9> G. Smith, _Atheism_ p 172-3 We should note, however, the misleading use of "faith" in this context, as supposedly contrasted with "reason". If one believes in the existence of an omniscient, infallible being, then it hardly requires an act of "faith" to accept the testimony of this being. ... Working from the premise that an omniscient, infallible being exists and that this being has revealed a proposition to man, it is a short, logical -- and uncontroversial -- step to conclude that this proposition is worthy of belief. What stronger evidence - 13 - could one ask for? ... It is clearly an act of reason, and to call it "faith" is highly misleading. George Salmon, _The Infallibility of the Church: a critique_, (Dublin, 1888; reprint of 3rd ed., Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mich. 1951) p 63-64 Thus it is really amusing... to see how much labor is expended on the proof that God is true; that He cannot deceive; that nothing which He has revealed can be false; and that therefore those who accept His statements without doubting cannot possibly be in error, and have infallible certainty that they are in the right. But all the time it is tried to make us forget to ask for proof of what is the real point at issue, namely, that God _has_ revealed the doctrines in question. It is certain enough that what God has revealed is true; but if it is not certain that He has revealed a doctrine, then we cannot have certain assurance of that doctrine, or of anything that is founded on it. <10> George Salmon, _The Infallibility of the Church: a critique_, (Dublin, 1888; reprint of 3rd ed., Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mich. 1951) p 219 <11> AS 391vv-392i (415n-aa) <12> FNI 55 Nor does one need a full system of philosophical epistemology in order to distinguish one's own considered judgement from one's feelings, wishes, hopes or fears. <13> AS 129-131 (131-134) <14> A. Rand, "Art and Moral Treason" 4/3/13h-i & RM 148-9 - 14 -


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