Philosophy Word of the Day – Personalism

Although it was only in the first half of the twentieth century that the term personalism became known as a designation of philosophical schools and systems, personalist thought had developed throughout the nineteenth century as a reaction to perceived depersonalizing elements in Enlightenment rationalism, pantheism, Hegelian absolute idealism, individualism as well as collectivism in politics, and materialist, psychological, and evolutionary determinism.

In its various strains, personalism always underscores the centrality of the person as the primary locus of investigation for philosophical, theological, and humanistic studies. It is an approach or system of thought which regards or tends to regard the person as the ultimate explanatory, epistemological, ontological, and axiological principle of all reality, although these areas of thought are not stressed equally by all personalists and there is tension between idealist, phenomenological, existentialist, and Thomist versions of personalism.

[ . . . ]

Personalists hold personhood (or “personality”) to be the fundamental notion, as that which gives meaning to all of reality and constitutes its supreme value. Personhood carries with it an inviolable dignity that merits unconditional respect. Personalism has for the most part not been primarily a theoretical philosophy of the person. Although it does defend a unique theoretical understanding of the person, this understanding is in itself such as to support the prioritization of moral philosophy, while at the same time the moral experience of the person is such as to decisively determine the theoretical understanding. . . . Stressing the moral nature of the person, or the person as the subject and object of free activity, personalism tends to focus on practical, moral action and ethical questions. (Continue)

(Via Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

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Stephen Meyer vs. Michael Shermer

The Debate Over Darwin Continues: Stephen Meyer vs. Michael Shermer in Beverly Hills

In less than two weeks we will witness the rematch of the decade as Stephen Meyer and Michael Shermer face off on the question of intelligent design versus evolution.

Meyer vs. ShermerThese two men have met several times before, most recently at Freedomfest in Las Vegas in 2008 (click here for video). They also sparred in 2005 at Westminster College and appeared together on Lee Strobel’s Faith Under Fire program (video here). It will be interesting to see the new insights into the questions at hand as this debate has matured and developed.

The debate is hosted by the American Freedom Alliance and will take place at the prestigious Saban Theater in Beverly Hills on Monday, November 30, at 7:30pm. Dr. Meyer and Dr. Shermer will be joined by Dr. Richard Sternberg and Dr. Donald Prothero, respectively.

For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

(Via Evolution News)

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William Lane Craig Debates with Daniel Dennett

Here is audio of a debate of sorts between William Lane Craig and Daniel Dennett. Craig spends 45 minutes going over three theistic arguments in some detail: Leibnizian cosmological arguments, kalām cosmological arguments, and anthropic principle teleological arguments. Dennett responds for about 10 minutes. He seems impressed by Craig’s presentation, but objects that our intuitions (about causality for example) when taken to these conclusions, cease to be intuitive. I’m not sure that’s really relevant though, since the exposition of an intuition is never as obvious and clear as the intuition itself. At any rate, it’s obviously more plausible to affirm the principle of causality than to deny it.

He also objects to the claim that abstract objects do not stand in causal relations. He suggests they can in a sense, but the sense he describes is clearly formal causal relations. The claim is that they cannot stand in efficient causal relations, and so cannot be appealed to as efficient causes.

It ends with a couple of minutes of commentary by “Alister” who I assume is Alister McGrath since Craig’s CV includes “In Defense of Theistic Arguments” in the just-published The Future of Atheism: Alister McGrath and Daniel Dennett in Dialogue.

(HT Quodlibeta)

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Sartre on God and Meaning in Life

“The existentialist . . . finds it extremely embarrassing that God does not exist, for there disappears with Him all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven. There can no longer be any good a priori, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. It is nowhere written that “the good” exists, that one must be honest or must not lie, since we are now upon the plane where there are only men. Dostoevsky once wrote: ‘If God did not exist, everything would be permitted’; and that, for existentialism, is the starting point. Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself. . . . Nor, on the other hand, if God does not exist, are we provided with any values or commands that could legitimise our behaviour. Thus we have neither behind us, nor before us in a luminous realm of values, any means of justification or excuse. – We are left alone, without excuse. That is what I mean when I say that man is condemned to be free.”

Jean Paul Sartre, “Existentialism Is a Humanism,” 1946


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